|The sexual body : from metropolis to metapolis|
|Current calls for an up to date redefinition of civil society in today’s highly technological, globalised and multicultural society involve claims also about how this affects our experience of the sexual body. Or, put differently, how these might (ought to?) lead to an altogether new, alternative ‘bodily regime’. Taking these current developments as a point of departure, I want to develop a historical narrative of how we are evolving from what I metaphorically call the regime of the ‘metropolitan body’ to that of a ‘metapolitan body’.
The metropolitan bodily regime was inscribed still within a colonial, eurocentric frame of mind (biological, static, hierarchical, white, middle class, male, heterosexual supremacy), targeting the regulation of sexual life both within the metropolitan centres of the West as in its overseas colonies. As an ideology, it has become obsolete, not only in view of post-World War II theorizing of the body and society (postcolonialism, second wave feminism, gay liberation), but also with regard to the current free traffic of capital, goods and people, the increasingly multicultural composition of national and regional populations, and the disintegration of a traditional ‘center/periphery’-model of global society.
In today’s increasingly urbanised, information age societies, where proximity rules in stead of distance, where ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ are engaged in an increasingly complex, mutual dynamic, and where identities multiply and intersect, I want to outline what I call the alternative regime of the ‘metapolitan body’, a metaphor, in short, for sexual citizenship redefined, detached now from coercive frameworks such as the nation, the bourgeoisie, male dominance and allowing for empowerment and autopoiesis in a new, more neutral ethical framework, that is to regulate life in the metapolis.
My paper presentation will consist of a brief chronological and a more detailed comparative narrative, largely, of both the ‘metropolitan’ and the ‘metapolitan’ regime of the sexual body, where I will focus in particular in the shifting and changing interaction between discourse on racial / ethnic / religious / cultural / national diversity on the one hand, and discourse on sexual and gender diversity on the other. Further elaborating some of the insights, that I have put forward in my book The Geography of Perversion (London-New York, 1995), I want to demonstrate how today, we are still struggling to shake off the inheritance of past, metropolitan thinking about the sexual body as the growth and dissemination of life, both real and virtual, in de-centered, multicultural metapolises confronts us with an altogether different reality. I want to provide some handles to gain a better understanding of how current challenges can be better met by opposing the still largely projective (utopian?) project of the ‘metapolitan body’ to its historical (still lingering?) antecedent, being the ‘metropolitan body’. As such, this paper would fit nicely within a session on post-colonialism and globalisation in particular.