Negotiating the terrain between techno-optimism and eco-pessimism, this work establishes the political connections between technologies of the body, property, and the environment. Specific technologies of the body, such as surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, are examined in relation to their political and legal constructions. Next, Shevory analyzes private property as an evolving historical concept that implicates environmental and biological transformations with particular attention given to biotechnology cases. He then considers the body’s appearance and its alterations through plastic surgery, dieting, or piercing as political constructions.
A theoretical overview specifies technoprogressivist (liberal) and technophobic traditions, especially as they have evolved in the United States during the second half of the 20th-century. Drawing upon critical and feminist theories, Shevory specifies a body politics that negotiates the terrain between these two traditions. Body technologies and markets, he argues, interact to consolidate and reinforce dominant systems of power, while at the same time resisting and sometimes subverting them. Technology is often a factor in the fragmentation of evolving political ideological discourses on the left and right; however, the resulting instabilities create the potential for both the expansion of global capital and its subversion via democratic interventions.