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The Unrealized Potential of Body-Reflexive Practices

Intimations of a New Materialism

Steve Garlick

Abstract

Raewyn Connell's work foregrounds bodies in a way that challenges the social-constructionist orientation that has dominated much of the critical research on masculinities. Yet, her concept of “body-reflexive practices” is one of the least explored aspects of her work. In this commentary, I argue that body-reflexive practices, as the concept is developed in The Men and the Boys, points in the direction of a potentially productive convergence between masculinity studies and new materialist theories. In its engagement with the nature of bodies underlying the cultural construction of gender, Connell's work maintains a relevance that has been largely unappreciated. This is especially the case for boys and young men as they develop masculinities in negotiation with their corporeal capacities.