We commonly use the language of body ownership as a way of claiming personal rights, though we do not normally mean it literally. Most people feel uneasy about markets in sexual or reproductive services, and though there is a substantial global trade in body tissues, the illicit trade in live human organs is widely condemned. But what, if any, is the problem with treating bodies as resources and/or possessions? Is there something about the body that makes it particularly inappropriate to apply to it the language of property, commodities, and things? Or is thinking the body special a kind of sentimentalism that blocks clear thinking about matters such as prostitution, surrogate motherhood, or the sale of spare kidneys?
Tagged with “slavery” (3)
Cultural Obituaries: The Death of Boom Culture? (with Walter Benn Michaels, David Simon, Susan Straight, and Dale Peck)
Fiction in the Age of Inequality
Now that markets have proven a flawed index of our economic well being, our cultural life needs to look beyond the pat certainties of laissez faire ideology. Among the ills afflicting the American novel at the height of boom culture, Walter Benn Michaels argues, was a curatorial obsession with past oppressions—from slavery to the Holocaust to memoir-style accounts of family abuse. Writers should now be asking less about what it meant to oppose the Holocaust, he contends, and more about what it means to support free trade.
David Simon, creator of The Wire, and Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon, join Michaels and novelist-critic Dale Peck to discuss the social vision of contemporary storytelling.
In front of an audience at the South Bank Arts Centre, London, Harriett Gilbert talks to Toni Morrison about her prize-winning book Beloved.