Decolonizing Bodies (Edited Collection)

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Carolyn Ureña/ University of Pennsylvania
contact email: 

Decolonizing Bodies

Editors: Carolyn Ureña (University of Pennsylvania) and Saiba Varma (UC San Diego)


We are the editors of a collection of essays entitled Decolonizing Bodies under contract with Bloomsbury Press. Decolonizing Bodies theorizes how racial capitalism, colonialism, and heteropatriarchal violence erode and disintegrate the bodily schema and the experiences of racialized and colonized populations, such that they are overdetermined and overladen with racist meaning and inscription, which profoundly constrains their ways of being in the world.  Our volume responds to the urgent question of how queer and non-normative Black and brown bodies live these displacements and disintegrations. 


This volume politically invigorates embodiment studies, a key concern in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and feminist theory by centering decolonial scholarship and activism. Decolonial scholars have moved away from thinking of colonialism as an event towards understanding it as an ongoing structure--one that continues to live in bodies, relations, environments, and social life. Building on this work, we theorize racism and colonialism as a set of practices embedded in bodily and habitual registers that are not only sedimented, but also active, ongoing, made and remade. Bodies, we argue, powerfully register the impacts of colonial and racialized violence, but through practices of embodiment, they also digest, expel, and transform them. Our contributors show how bodies doabolitionist and decolonial work in a variety of scenes of creative and everyday life. 


Rather than take the normative cis, white, male, able body as our unmarked starting point, our anthology challenges existing embodiment studies by centering the embodied experiences and struggles of Black, Indigenous, colonized, disabled, queer, and racialized subjects across the globe. In so doing, our collection endeavors to remake the grounds and analysis of embodiment studies as a cross-disciplinary field. The volume’s unique and powerful contribution is bringing embodiment studies into conversation with abolitionist, feminist, crip of color critique, and decolonial activism and scholarship–something we believe has not been done in a book-length project, nor with the kind of geographical breadth and attention that our collection brings. 


The book consists of an introduction that lays out the sense of the problem, the structure of the volume, and the nature of our intervention. We have organized the volume into three parts: Part I, Bodies and Colonial Deposits, examines the bodily impacts of racism and colonialism without limiting these considerations to physiological, biomedical, or epigenetic markers. The chapters in this section undo dominant logics of health as an individual, static state in favor of it as the effects of what one of our contributors eloquently calls “accumulated, intersecting biopolitical processes that leave racialized bodies vulnerable to disease and death.” Part II, Bodily Refusals and Reclamations, reclaims an eclectic set of non-normative rationalities, modes of embodiment, and experiences–such as madness, crip time, gardening, and dance–as decolonial practices. Together, these practices counter what one of our contributors call  “the tyrannies of silence imposed” on non-normative bodies and subjects from the Global South. Finally, in Part III, Abolitionist and Decolonial Futures, our contributors reimagine and transform historically anti-Black and heteropatriarchal spaces and languages. 


Our exciting, multidisciplinary collection welcomes contributions written in traditional academic voices as well as mixed-genre essays. Many of our authors are contributing first-person accounts of how they, as racialized, disabled, queer, and colonized bodies, feel, theorize, and respond to capitalist and colonial histories. In celebrating and making space for multiple kinds of embodied knowledge, and in centering non-normative subjective experiences, Decolonizing Bodies is committed to enacting a politics of decolonizing academic knowledge. We envision this text to be taught widely, in courses on feminist, gender and sexuality studies, critical race and ethnic studies, disability and critical military studies, medical anthropology, art history, philosophy, and feminist science and technology studies, among others. We also believe it will be of interest to abolitionist and decolonial activists and movements. Our goal is to approach embodiment as a politically charged and politically relevant frame by foregrounding the experiences of racialized BIPOC subjects. 


Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words to co-editors Carolyn Ureña ( and Saiba Varma ( by December 15, 2022.