Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics
Embodied Power explores dimensions of politics seldom addressed in political science, illuminating state practices that produce hierarchically-organized groups through racialized gendering—despite guarantees of formal equality. Challenging disembodied accounts of citizenship, the book traces how modern science and law produce race, gender, and sexuality as purportedly natural characteristics, masking their political genesis. Taking the United States as a case study, Hawkesworth demonstrates how diverse laws and policies concerning civil and political rights, education, housing, and welfare, immigration and securitization, policing and criminal justice create finely honed hierarchies of difference that structure the life prospects of men and women of particular races and ethnicities within and across borders. In addition to documenting the continuing operation of embodied power across diverse policy terrains, the book investigates complex ways of seeing that render raced-gendered relations of domination and subordination invisible. From common assumptions about individualism and colorblind perception to disciplinary norms such as methodological individualism, methodological nationalism, and abstract universalism, problematic presuppositions sustain mistaken notions concerning formal equality and legal neutrality that allow state practices of racialized gendering to escape detection with profound consequences for the life prospects of privileged and marginalized groups. Through sustained critique of these flawed suppositions, Embodied Power challenges central beliefs about the nature of power, the scope of state action, and the practice of liberal democracy and identifies alternative theoretical frameworks that make racialized-gendering visible and actionable.