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Naked Among the Karma Eaters: The Body Politics of Women’s Lands

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Members Free and Non-members Free with admission ($10)

Naked Among the Karma Eaters: The Body Politics of Women’s Lands

Keridwen N. Luis

At the risk of stating the obvious: we exist in the world in bodies. How our bodies interact in cultural spaces shapes us and shapes our cultural spaces. This talk examines how the "body politics" of women's land—communal living spaces created by and for women—shape individual experiences and larger expectations about gender, race, identity, and virtue. How does nudity change how bodies are perceived and policed?  What does being connected to the landscape have to do with excretion? And how do eating, food, and gender intertwine in women-only spaces? This talk will explore the complex cultural intersections of body/gender and self/community.

Keridwen N. Luis is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in gender, sexuality, agency/identity, and the body. Her latest book, Embodying Herland: The Women's Land Movement, Culture, and Gender, examines the contemporary women’s land movement in the United States through lesbian identity, body praxis, and ideas about community and race. She holds a PhD in anthropology and an MA in anthropology and women’s studies from Brandeis University. Luis teaches in the Anthropology; Sociology; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies departments at Brandeis University.  She is also a lecturer in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology departments at Harvard University.

During World War I, women assumed responsibilities traditionally reserved for men. The British journal The Landswoman: The Journal of the Land Army and Women’s Institutes (1918-1920), was created as a resource for this newly minted female workforce and was geared specifically to those women who worked the land. The journal features articles, short stories, poems, photos, and even outdoor clothing and equipment advertisements that speak to women’s experiences and their expanding societal roles.  The Athenæum holds the complete run of this journal, which is an excellent source for those interested in the intersections of women, their bodies, their spaces, and their relationship with land.

This event is part of “The Culture of American Womanhood,” a four-part series investigating multiple facets of the experience of womanhood in our own time and probing questions of women’s roles in contemporary American society and culture. Join us for the other events in the series:

Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America Act
Book talk with editors Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay, moderated by Jaclyn Friedman
6-7 pm on October 18, 2017

About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America
Book talk with Columbia University Professor of Law Carol Sanger
6-7 pm on November 2, 2017

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II
Book talk with New York Times bestselling author Liza Mundy
12-1 pm on November 7, 2017