Discovery Guides Areas


The Thin Red Line: Social Power & the Open Body
(Released March 2000)

  by Dan Edelman  


Key Citations

Web Sites




anorexia nervosa: eating disorder characterized by pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, &, usually, excessive weight loss.

apotemnophilia: sexual fetish centered around a paraphiliac preoccupation with amputation.

bulimia: eating disorder characterized by compulsive overeating and usually followed by self-induced vomiting or laxative or diuretic abuse; often accompanied by guilt and depression.

deconstruction: literary critical methodology that assumes that language refers only to itself rather than to an extratextual reality; asserts multiple conflicting interpretations of a text; and bases such interpretations on the philosophical, political, or social implications of language usage in the text rather than on author intent.

dialectics: systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas in pursuit of resolving their conflict.

essentialism: a philosophical theory ascribing ultimate reality to essence embodied in a thing perceptible to the senses.

gatekeeping: controlling access to goods, services, or information, usually applied by individuals or groups in hierarchical organizations.

human immunodeficiency virus: (HIV) any of a group of retroviruses that infect and destroy helper T cells in the immune system to a degree diagnostic of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

liminality: an intermediate ritual phase in which participants (usually initiates in rites of passage) are considered sacred or polluting by virtue of their anomalous and ambiguous social position.

medicalization: medical profession's increasing involvement in birth and death processes, implying an imperialistic gaining of social power.

nanotechnology: the art of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially to build microscopic devices (as robots).

neotribalism: notion that, under the influence of postmodern mass consumer consciousness, individualism is giving way to the formation of new social groups/networks that cultivate collective identities.

performativity: Judith Butler's theoretical perspective on identity politics & the realization of identity, often sex role, arguing that an individual constructs an identity & acts it out in accordance to certain social norms.

postcolonialism: colonizer's political, cultural, and economic influence after colonial independence and the transitional processes following colonial rule.

postindustrial society: a society marked by a shift from a goods-producing to a service economy, rise of the professional and technical class, and widespread diffusion of intellectual technology as the prime source of power and social dynamics displacing property; often linked to the broader trend away from modernity toward postmodernity.

postmodernism: a controversial body of theory challenging the legitimating metanarratives of modernity, leading to a social condition characterized by the dubious value of all endeavors and statements; ie, culture exists in surface multiform.

poststructuralism: broad-based and loosely structured interdisciplinary movement that has extended the radical analytical possibilities in Ferdinand de Saussere's theory of language as significatory rather than representational. Also characterized by the use of Jacques Derridas technique of deconstuction.

queer theory: a radical perspective seeking to destabilize identity politics and its often binary categories in pursuit of delimiting normative understandings of human nature, particularly sexuality, in an empowering manner.

social constructionism: theoretical concept emphasizing the socially created nature of social life, and, more specifically, the idea that society is actively and creatively produced by humans, with social worlds as interpretations of individuals and groups.

transhumanism: a social philosophy advocating the use of technology (eg, genetic engineering and nanotechnology) to overcome biological limitations, thus transforming the human condition.