Technologies of the Gendered Body

Reading Cyborg Women

Technologies of the Gendered Body

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: 29 b&w photographs Published: December 1995

Author: Anne Balsamo

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

This book takes the process of "reading the body" into the fields at the forefront of culture—the vast spaces mapped by science and technology—to show that the body in high-tech is as gendered as ever. From female body building to virtual reality, from cosmetic surgery to cyberpunk, from reproductive medicine to public health policies to TV science programs, Anne Balsamo articulates the key issues concerning the status of the body for feminist cultural studies in a postmodern world.
Technologies of the Gendered Body combines close readings of popular texts—such as Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the movie Pumping Iron II: The Women, cyberpunk magazines, and mass media—with analyses of medical literature, public policy documents, and specific technological practices. Balsamo describes the ways in which certain biotechnologies are ideologically shaped by gender considerations and other beliefs about race, physical abilities, and economic and legal status. She presents a view of the conceptual system that structures individuals’ access to and participation in these technologies, as well as an overview of individuals’ rights and responsibilities in this sometimes baffling area. Examining the ways in which the body is gendered in its interactions with new technologies of corporeality, Technologies of the Gendered Body counters the claim that in our scientific culture the material body has become obsolete. With ample evidence that the techno-body is always gendered and marked by race, this book sets the stage for a renewed feminist engagement with contemporary technological narratives.


“A thoughtful, incisive, and culturally far-ranging assessment of technology’s habit of reinforcing the borders of gender as they have historically existed. . . . A landmark contribution.” — Martha Henn, Weber Studies

"Technologies of the Gendered Body combines a lucid use of theory and an intelligent and entertaining discussion of key cultural practices, it is also a model of generous and engaged feminist theorizing." — Elspeth Probyn, University of Montreal

"Balsamo takes us further into cyborg territory than any intelligent book has done. Her surveys provide a surefooted guide to the survival both of womens’ health and feminist politics in many of those new and unfamiliar areas of hi-tech experience that have already, almost unconsciously, become part of our daily lives." — Andrew Ross, New York University

"Balsamo’s very thorough exploration of technology’s impact on and redefinition of the gendered body is at the vanguard of an area of study that is just now coming into its own. Her analyses are clear and masterful." — Cathy Schwichtenberg, University of Georgia


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Price: $25.95

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Anne Balsamo is a principle scientist at Xerox PARC and a member of a multidisciplinary research design group RED: Research in Experimental Documents. RED’s recent research took form as a museum exhibit titled “XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading” that will tour science/technology museums in North America through 2004. She is also an affiliate faculty member at the Institute for Globalization and Information Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1698-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1686-2
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