Body hair: a cultural study of the technologies of regulation and management of body-boundaries

Smith, M., 2006. Body hair: a cultural study of the technologies of regulation and management of body-boundaries. MPhil, Nottingham Trent University.

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In this thesis I explore 'body hair' and its management as a form of embodied cultural- production. This exploration begins with a critique of biomedicine and the status of body hair in relation to the body in general. I explore how this scientific model discloses the body as being individuated and self-contained; a body that is bounded and controllable and through which subjectivity emerges. However, body hair exists outside of the laboratory and is also constituted in the everyday management practices that are nonetheless conditioned by biomedicine. Looking at the messages of advertisements, the technologies of depilation and the experiences of beauticians and salon customers it becomes apparent that the 'smooth' subject is contingent upon a smooth body, and emerges only through specific body hair management practices. These practices are revealed to be problematic as body hair refuses to be ultimately controlled or 'smoothed'. Body hair is disclosed as a substance that can be managed through regular, technologised intervention and simultaneously as a potential disruption to biomedical accounts of the smooth subject. Throughout the thesis I develop the notion of a 'smoothing' culture, which is theorised more completely in the final chapter with a look at the machinations and technologies of smoothing. But inherent to smoothing culture and to smooth subjects is an anxiety about body hair; a concern about the body itself and its potential for disorder, incoherence, inconsistency and ambivalence. The aim of the thesis is the exploration of body hair management conceived of as a means of materialising and reconciling anxieties about the insecurity of the body. This conception necessitates forms of management that are explored as forms of embodied cultural production.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Smith, M.
Date: 2006
ISBN: 9781369317015
Divisions: Professional Services > Libraries and Learning Resources
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 01 Oct 2020 14:15
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2023 09:24

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