Introduction: The Legacies and Limits of The Body in Pain

Leila Dawney, Timothy J. Huzar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Since its publication in 1985, Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain has become a seminal text in the study of embodiment. In its foregrounding of the body in war and torture, it critiques the minimising of the body in questions of politics, offering a compelling account of the structure and phenomenology of violent domination. However, at the same time the text can be seen to shore up a mind/body dualism that has been associated with oppressive forms of gendering, racialisation and disablement. Divisive, powerful and elegant, the text has been central in the shaping of approaches to embodiment over the past 30 years. This special issue revisits Scarry's text in the light of 30 years of scholarship on embodiment and the body. Its legacies and limits are exemplified through a series of articles that mobilise the arguments of The Body in Pain even as they push at the limits of the text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalBody and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • The Body in Pain
  • Elaine Scarry
  • mind/body
  • sovereignty
  • torture
  • war


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