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Body Shopping: reconfiguring geographies of fitness

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This article critically interrogates the representational politics implicated in the metaphorical and material production of geographies of embodied fitness. It is intended as a contribution to the growing critical appreciation of the ways in which humans and non-humans are worked together in the production and reproduction of cyborg or hybrid geographies. It therefore mobilises the word fitness in the literal sense of a bodily state, but also in the metaphorical sense of how diverse 'things' come to fit together, how collections of bodies and machines come to be intelligible as inhabitable worlds. But, importantly, this article also argues that this sort of analysis is inadequate if it fails to engage with the ways that the production of human-machinic hybrids is also bound up in the enactment of geographies of ontological purity, a purity that is diffracted, at least in part, through categories such as gender and race. To illustrate this, the paper briefly outlines the ways in which the fitness equipment manufacturer NordicTrack attempts to produce geographies of fitness. Specifically, it suggests that while these geographies muddy the clarity of the boundaries between categories such as male/female, human/non-human, nature/culture, at the same time they work as forces of purification, subtly and not so subtly reinforcing these very same dualisms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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