“Flesh, we believe – more than bodies - is at stake in our posthuman times, in the sense that it is flesh that is subject to increased control either in the laboratory or the marketplace and is caught up in processes of modification that seek to master and profit from it.” (Diamanti et al., 2009, 4)
This call for papers takes off from the longstanding use of the notion of flesh in academic investigations of the more or less porous boundaries between the self, others and the world around us. Flesh, these works suggest, is ontologically slippery and definitionally elusive. For Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964), flesh reconnects the viewing and the visible, the touching and the touched, the body and the world. Perception itself is a fleshly - auditory, visual, gustatory, haptic, olfactory - activity. Moreover, as Antonio Strati (2007) points out in his discussion of the connections between practice-based learning and ‘sensible knowledge’ in organizations, when we perceive others, we always perceive them as fundamentally corporeal. Equally, the world acts upon our flesh, so that what or whom we touch, see, smell, taste and hear may touch, see, smell, taste and hear us. Elsewhere, Michel Foucault locates modern western scientia sexualis as having its origins in the earliest years of Christianity and its confessional regime which seeks to unearth “the important secrets of the flesh” (1977, 154) as the deepest truths of the human subject. In this reading, flesh is the natural body, always and irrevocably bound to sin and to death.
Cherríe Moraga (2015, 19), on the other hand, identifies a theory in the flesh as “one where the physical realities of our lives - our skin color, the land or concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings - all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity”. In a very different feminist analysis, Judith Butler (1990, 96, 33) defines gender as the “styles of the flesh” which “congeal over time”; whereas Vicki Kirby (1997) takes her and other feminist poststructuralists to task in Telling Flesh for their overstatement of the cultural inscription of the body, and argues that “once you are seriously displacing the nature/language opposition, you have to be arguing that nature, far from being written on, and insofar as it cannot be said to 'lack language', 'must be articulate'" (page 90).
Elspeth Probyn (2001), on the other hand, provides a dazzling array of ways to understand skin both materially, metonymically and metaphorically – it protects and is vulnerable, it can be bruised and breached, it is porous, it expands and retracts, it devours and is devoured, it has colour, texture and sensation.
Organization studies scholars have, nonetheless, perhaps been somewhat neglectful of flesh in our various endeavours; whilst for the last three decades or so we have paid a great deal of attention to the body, we have largely overlooked flesh. Yet, as our opening epigraph implies, flesh can be connected to organization/s and organizing in manifold different ways. Possible contributions to this special issue could therefore include but are certainly not limited to:
- The pleasures of the flesh: carnality, sensuality, excess and indulgence in, of and as provided by organizations (and their opposites).
- ‘Fleshworkers’ – cosmetic surgeons, masseuses, cosmetic surgeons, tattooists, make-up artists, slaughterhouse workers, morticians, laboratory scientists etc. - and the markets for their services.
- The resurging significance of the provenance of meat and fish in western eating habits and its cultural, symbolic and economic implications.
- Vegetarianism, veganism, ‘clean’ and raw food diets, the markets around and commodification of these practices.
- Researching the flesh, bodily, sensory, fleshly, aesthetic or sensible knowing and/ or methods, the ethics of fleshly research. Organizing (and researching) in meatspace and virtual space, ‘in the flesh’ and online.
- Bodily changes, wounding, scarring and dysmorphia in organizations.
- Flesh-eaters and the undead: cannibals, vampires and zombies as organizational metaphors.
- The organization of organ donation and the global black market in body parts.
- The global meat industry and its manifold discontents: eg, the certification and marketing of halal meat, the UK horse meat scandal.
- (Re)incarnation and incorporation in and of organizations.
- Pro-ana, pro-mia and fat acceptance organizations.
- Organizational metaphors of the flesh: eg, the ‘lean organization’, a ‘meaty question’, ‘fleshing out an argument’, a ‘meat market’, ‘dead meat’ etc.
- The use of animal skin for clothing and furnishings and the complex global differences of necessity versus excess.
- The ethics and politics of organizing as understood through Agamben’s zoë (bare life) and bios (qualified life) … and so on.
This list is intended to be indicative only. Innovative interpretations of the call are encouraged. With its long tradition of inter-disciplinary approaches, C&O invites papers that draw insights and approaches from across a range of social sciences and humanities. In addition to scholars working in management and organization studies we welcome contributions from anthropology, sociology, philosophy, politics, art history, communication, film, gender and cultural studies. We also welcome papers from any disciplinary, paradigmatic or methodological perspective as long as they directly address the theme of flesh and organization.
Please ensure that all submissions to the special issue are made via the ScholarOne Culture and Organization site. You will have to sign up for an account before you are able to submit a manuscript. Please ensure when you do submit that you select the relevant special issue (Volume 25, Issue 4) to direct your submission appropriately. If you experience any problems, please contact the editors of this issue.
Style and other instructions on manuscript preparation can be found here. Manuscript length should not exceed 8000 words, including appendices and supporting materials. Please also be aware that any images used in your submission must be your own, or where they are not, you must already have permission to reproduce them in an academic journal. You should make this explicit in the submitted manuscript.
Manuscripts must be submitted by 31st May 2018.
Prospective authors are invited to discuss manuscript ideas for the special issue with the guest editors before the deadline for submissions. They can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.