Bodies in Cultural Perspective


In this course we will explore cultural understandings of the body, and different perspectives of bodies in the social sciences. What has emerged from the more recent interest in the human body as it is lived, and how it is experienced as living, has frequently been a multiplicity of bodies. The lectures and tutorials will explore and critically discuss ethnographic examples from around the world, addressing different social and cultural understandings of individual and social bodies, the body politic and medical bodies. For instance, topics that may be included in this course are techniques of the body; tattooed bodies or cosmetic surgery; political bodies and embodiment; and social and cultural understandings of working with the body politic.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the different theoretical perspectives used to study social and cultural practices of the lived body, living the body, embodiment and bodies in cultural perspective.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of how frameworks and approaches to the body have been used and developed over time.

3. Demonstrate knowledge of the way in which experiences are culturally constituted and socially controlled.

4. Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse cultural understandings, representations and social practices.

5. Demonstrate skills in giving and facilitating oral or online presentations and engaging in team work, writing academic essays, undertaking and contributing to policy research.

6. Demonstrate an ability to integrate and apply social science approaches in the workplace.


Topics may include:

  1. Classic and contemporary ethnographic studies of approaches to the body (e.g. embodiment, the individual body, the social body, the body politic, and personal and cultural experiences of living the body).
  2. Ethnographic studies of how relationships are negotiated, understandings mediated and meanings constructed, with a particular emphasis on cultural difference(s).
  3. Theories of the ways in which experiences are symbolically, socially and culturally constituted.
  4. Theories of social and cultural approaches to the lived body, living the body and bodies in different cultural perspectives.

Assumed Knowledge

40 units of study at 1000 level

Assessment Items

Essay: Essay 1

In Term Test: Take Home Exam

Presentation: Presentation

Participation: Tutorial Participation

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Tutorial for 1 Hour per Week for the Full Term or Online engagement as well as self-directed learning


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Face-to-face or online lecture for 1 Hour per Week for the Full Term