Toxic Bodies that Matter: Trans-Corporeal Materialities in Dionne Brand's Ossuaries
Drawing on recent developments in material feminist theory (Alaimo and Hekman 2008; Barad 2008; Tuana 2008), this article examines the representation of the female body as a site of trans-corporeal toxicity in Dionne Brand's latest poetry collection Ossuaries (2010). Yasmine, the central figure in the text, embodies a trans-corporeal toxicity inscribed by the violence of multiple histories and discourses across different temporal and spatial frameworks. Significantly, as Brand's collection illustrates, trans-corporeality is not only a site of violence and death, but also a place of desire and resistance. "Thinking through toxic bodies," Alaimo claims, "allows us to reimagine human corporeality, and materiality itself, not as a utopian or romantic substance existing prior to social inscription, but as something that always bears the trace of history, social position, region, and the uneven distribution of risk" ("Trans-Corporeal" 261). Brand's Ossuaries brings the paradoxical nature of trans-corporeality into the forefront by providing a material feminist account of the intimate, and sometimes lethal, outcomes of the crossing of material borders, particularly for the female body. By dealing with the permeability of boundaries between the human body, technology, and the natural world as a site of interconnectedness, agency, and dependency, Ossuaries provides a feminist critique of the material, ethical, and political impact of hegemonic structures and practices of power in an unevenly globalized 21st century.
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