Get access

A Phenomenology of Excorporation, Bodily Alienation, and Resistance: Rethinking Sexed and Racialized Embodiment


  • Kristin Zeiler


The article examines how some culturally shared and corporeally enacted beliefs and norms about sexed and racialized embodiment can form embodied agency, and this with the aid of the concepts of incorporation and excorporation. It discusses how the phenomenological concept of excorporation can help us examine painful experiences of how one's lived body breaks in the encounter with others. The article also examines how a continuous excorporation can result in bodily alienation, and what embodied resistance can mean when one has undergone or undergoes excorporation. Elaborating on the work of, among others, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Drew Leder, and Sarah Ahmed, I discuss incorporation and excorporation of beliefs and norms regarding sexual difference, such as beliefs and norms regarding female and male embodiment, through a reading of Jeffrey Eugenides' novel Middlesex. I also suggest that it is useful to understand the postcolonial scholar Frantz Fanon's narrative of how he could not but attend to his own skin color while living in France in the 1940s and 1950s, in terms of excorporation. Whereas these are different narratives in many ways, I regard them as helpful for clarifying what excorporation implies and what analytic work this concept can enable.