Child, Bodies, Worlds


Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 6 illus. Published: November 2002

Cultural Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

Always in the process of becoming, inherently incomplete, the child is a remarkably malleable figure. In Figurations, Claudia Castañeda shows how this malleability is itself generated—how the child is "made" by different constituencies and how the resulting historically, geographically, and culturally specific figures are put to widely divergent uses, often to very powerful effect. Situated at the intersection of feminist, postcolonial, cultural, and science and technology studies, this book provides a remarkable map of the child's meaning and movement across transnational circuits of exchange.
Castañeda investigates the construction of the child as both a natural and cultural body, the character of its embodiment, and its imaginative appeal in various settings. The sites through which she tracks the bodily production and deployment of the child include nineteenth-century developmental science; cognitive neuroscience in the late twentieth century; international adoption; rumors and media coverage of child-organ stealing; and poststructuralist theory. Her work reveals the extent to which the child's cultural significance and value lie in its status as a body whose incompleteness makes it "available" for such varied uses. Figurations establishes the child as a key figure for understanding and rethinking the politics of nature, culture, bodies, and subjects in changing "global" worlds.


"[T]his is a book that should launch a number of other studies of the child. This is a truly interdisciplinary study. . . ." — Roy Richard Grinker , Anthropological Quarterly

"Claudia Castañeda has written a really wonderful book, which I recommend to all those interested not only in the cultural analysis of childhood but also in understanding how this might be related to postcolonial cultural theory more generally." — Valerie Walkerdine , Cultural Studies Review

"Even though Castañeda's work builds more on literary and feminist scholarship than on historical evidence, historians of technology may find value in her idea of the child figure as a vacated construction zone for theories of humanity, subjectivity, and adulthood, as well as her elaboration of how this concept plays in constructions of difference." — Rachel Prentice , Technology and Culture

"In a broadly ranging, theoretically edgy work, Claudia Castañeda illustrates just how consideration of the child can productively engage postcolonial, feminist, and cultural studies literatures. This book makes a welcome and important contribution by being a primarily theoretical consideration of that troublesome thing, the child." — Elizabeth Chin, American Anthropologist

"The book's focus on the child figure provides a new angle for readers interested in issues of development, globalization, and exchange." — Alison Kafer, Women's Studies

“Claudia Castañeda understands the power of figures not just to contain, but to shape, worlds. Her analysis of the potent figures of development, childhood, and the always transforming bodies of children themselves will not soon fade from my soul. Her book is about how ‘the child’ is made relentlessly available for cultural and political projects. The material and semiotic force of the figure ties times and places together into translocal knots that are at the heart of debates about globalization and development.” — Donna J. Haraway, author of Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and Technoscience

“So much literature in the cultural study of science and medicine has been devoted to the body, but what is a child body? Claudia Castañeda broaches this important question, presenting new and compelling ways of understanding constructions of the child in colonial and neocolonial culture, theory, and history. Figurations is an astute reading of the child figure as it is informed by medical and scientific discourses. Especially significant is Castañeda’s focus on the transnational dynamics that have shaped postwar medical and humanitarian discourses on the child. ” — Lisa Cartwright, author of Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Claudia Castañeda is Lecturer at the Institute for Women’s Studies at Lancaster University in England.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction - Figurations: Child, Bodies, Worlds

1. Developmentalism and the Child in Nineteenth-Century Science

2. Flexible Child-Bodies

3. Available Childhood: Race, Culture, and the Transnational Adoptee

4. Rumored Realities: Child-Organ Theft

5. The Child, in Theory: Post-structuralism, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis


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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2969-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2958-9
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