February 5, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Author Discusses New Body Politics in Wake of Ebola Scare, Feb. 5

The Between Love & Hate theme presents a talk by Dr. Therí A. Pickens on “The Practical Implications of New Body Politics” on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 5 p.m. in Baker Center 231.

Theri A. Pickens

Theri A. Pickens

Pickens is an Assistant Professor of English at Bates College. In her public appearance at Ohio University, she plans to discuss the implications of her work in the wake of the Ebola scare.

In her first book, New Body Politics: Narrating Arab and Black Identity in the Contemporary United States, Pickens asks several startling questions. In the increasingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic American landscape of the present, understanding and bridging dynamic cross-cultural conversations about social and political concerns becomes a complicated humanistic project. How do everyday embodied experiences transform from being anecdotal to having social and political significance? What can the experience of corporeality offer social and political discourse? And, how does that discourse change when those bodies belong to Arab Americans and African Americans?

Love and Hate themeBy way of answer, she discusses a range of literary, cultural, and archival material where narratives emphasize embodied experience to examine how these experiences constitute Arab Americans and African Americans as social and political subjects. Pickens argues that Arab American and African American narratives rely on the body’s fragility, rather than its exceptional strength or emotion, to create urgent social and political critiques. The creators of these narratives find potential in mundane experiences such as breathing, touch, illness, pain, and death. Each chapter in this book focuses on one of these everyday embodied experiences and examines how authors mobilize that fragility to create social and political commentary. Pickens discusses how the authors’ focus on quotidian experiences complicates their critiques of the nation state, domestic and international politics, exile, cultural mores, and the medical establishment.

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