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Curriculum Vitae: Embodied Ethics at the Seams of Intelligibility


  • Paula Cameron


Sites of embodied disruption challenge academics to engage with power at its seams. In this article I consider an ethics of embodiment, situating it within questions raised by Judith Butler in her articles, “Doing Justice to Someone” (Butler 2001a) and “Giving an Account of Oneself” (Butler 2001b). In “Giving an Account,” Butler claims that gaps in knowledge and representation are germane to ethical practice, that brave inadequacies and creative approximations are the best we can do for others and ourselves. In “Doing Justice,” Butler enacts this stance, recounting the story of David Reimer, a child who in 1965 was offered up to science after his penis was severed in a botched circumcision. She seizes upon, through narrative fragments, a body whose sexual indeterminacy became the site and occasion for particularly brutal regimes of interpretation. Butler situates this patchwork narrative within the academic industry that reappropriates David's story for its own purposes. Taking Butler's ideas to heart, I carefully trace the nuances of her argument and highlight the (necessary) silences and foreclosures of her account. I propose “seamfulness” as a possible ethical-aesthetic strategy for embodying Butler's ethical concerns. I close by briefly introducing some implications for arts-informed representations in academic work.