Embodiment is Always More: Intersectionality, Subjection and the Body
In everyday life we always live, act, feel and think in a bodily-somatic mode of being. Starting from this rather trivial statement, I suggest that we need to think through the concept of intersectionality from the somatic side of social life. In order to do so, I will present some conceptual-theoretical musings on subjectivation, its failure and the bodily dimension, illustrated by some examples taken mainly from the subculture of Argentine tango. The point is to discuss the pros and cons of intersectionality when trying to sociologically understand the linkage between discourse and its norms, on the one hand, and embodied practices on the other. As I see it, intersectionality risks the reproduction of an old reductionist flaw in social theory, that is, the search for order as characteristic of the ‘macro’ level and its somewhat determinant projection onto the praxeological level. To put it differently: embodiment as part of any social practice shows that ‘doing’ is necessarily more and thus other than the incorporation of theoretically and analytically defined central social categories – however many categories there might be.2 This by no means disregards the necessity and importance of intersectional perspectives. But it seems important to recall that categories of difference and inequality follow their categorical or structural logic and that action follows its own practical logic, including its corporeal dimension. Each of these logics relies heavily on the other, that is, they are co-constitutive, but they are not the same and cannot be reduced to one another. Thus, I argue that we should not lose sight of the inconclusive nature, instability and (also theoretical) constructedness of categories, and I argue that one main reason for this need lies in the somatic aspect of concrete social action.