Embodiment, as we conceive of it in this web text, embraces both the body itself and the process of embodiment. Bodies matter. The ways bodies move, change, affect other bodies, and are affected by outside forces matter. Individual and collective embodied experiences matter. In particular, we prioritize the bodies—and bodily experiences—of people who are marginalized (by race, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, citizenship status, and so much more), whose bodies are often ignored, overlooked, or colonized.
Yet as technofeminists we also recognize that embodiment moves beyond conceptions of the individual body. Similar to the process of identification and identifying, embodiment is contextual and malleable. As N. Katherine Hayles (1999) argues in her pivotal work How We Became Posthuman, embodiment is “enmeshed within the specifics of place, time, physiology, and culture, which together compose enactment” (p. 196). Embodiment “calls us to attend to what we just simply do, moving about, communicating with others, using objects that we simply use in order to make things happen…until those objects break or don’t do what we want and so tease us into a different attitude” (Arola & Wysocki, 2012, p. 3).
Feminist rhetorics examine people’s “relationship not only to their own physical embodiment but also their integral connection to the wider bodies and spaces of the physical world” in which they reside (Crawford, 2010, p. 77). Contemporary communication technologies allow for a broadened sense of (digital) space and enable us to convey our embodied experiences in myriad forms to a variety of audiences. At the same time, such technologies enable us to convey embodiment beyond physical, material bodies. Digital bodies, either virtually produced or augmented, complicate traditional perspectives of embodiment.