Book Review: A Jurisprudence of the Body

Date01 February 2022
Published date01 February 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
given the chance to be true to itself, benign state. This is not a sensible assumption and it
has long not been a plausible one. When it goes beyond the structuralimagination and
considers the doings of concrete persons in concrete settings, this book hammers it home
that this benignity, and the wisdom to give it effect, would have to be characteristic to
those doing the doings. Who can such people be? This book gives unsophisticated but
vivid and representative expression to the answer that this writer believes currently
f‌inds greatest favour in left-wing politics and thought.
Lancaster University Law School, UK
David Campbell
London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 316, ISBN 9783030421991, £96 (hbk).
In A Jurisprudence of the Body, editors Chris Dietz, Mitchell Travis and Michael
Thomson centre the body in relation to law in that they claim the body is an active, con-
stitutive force in the creation and effectuation of legal phenomena. This claim is framed as
following the feminist turn from discourse to materiality, like in the corporeal material
feminism of Elizabeth Grosz (1994), where embodiment describes our f‌leshy forms as
inextricably social, cultural and physical all at once. Attention to the body in social
studies generally focuses the scholars scalpels on the relations of milieus or f‌ields to
behavioural individuations or dispositions, and vice versa. Such attention has entailed
describing the meaning and consequence of practices mediated by the body, like social
formations pertaining to consumption, sport, religion and aesthetics. Likewise, forma-
tions pertaining to the experience and social organisation of sexuality, gender, health, dis-
ability and race have been explored through the human body as both a material and a
social force generative of, and informed by, them. The material turn with respect of
the body in social studies, more specif‌ically, has cut across earlier prioritisations of the
social or discursive constructions of or laid atop the body, to attend to the dynamic
performativity of corporeal matter that comprise human bodies, like with the scholarship
of Stacy Alaimo (2010) and Erin Manning (2009, 2013).
Dietz, Travis and Thomson state they are intervening in a similar space, albeit with a
disciplinary interest in how law and legal phenomena are inf‌lected by the materiality of
bodies and embodiment. They describe it as a jurisprudence of the body where the body is
taken seriously as an analytical category and empirical reality for law and legal phenom-
ena: specif‌ically, there is a particularity to bodies spatially, temporally and affectively in
how bodies are differentially expressed that law accommodates or does not accommo-
date but should. This is set up with a conceptual history of the body in modern legal scho-
larship through the genealogy of Nobody, Anybody, Somebody and Everybody: (1)
Nobody refers principally to the tradition of legal positivists who were unconcerned
Book Reviews 165

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