Publication details [#9117]

Rasmussen, Claire and Michael Brown. 2005. The body politics as spatial metaphor. 16 pp.


As part of a special issue on the geographies of citizenship, this paper considers the longstanding and popular metaphor of "the body politic' for a polity. The metaphor's comparative power is successful because it imports key geographic assumptions about how polities are best organised. It makes claims about society and space (premises about location, spatial organisation), nature-society relations (how the two spheres do and do not connect) and cartographic representation (the human body is the optimal representation of spatial and natural relations in a polity). The authors describe three ways in which geographical imaginations are constructed: organic, mechanical, and posthuman bodies politic. Their goal is twofold: first is to consider the ways the deployment of the metaphor of the body is used in political theory to convey a normative conception of citizenship; second is to bridge the gap between political theory and geography by paying special attention to the ways the body is a space. The metaphor of the body politic is a political geography that links citizenship to particular geographical and normative relationships. (Claire Rasmussen and Michael Brown)