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Heft 7 - Jahrgang 4 (2016)
Body Polis
Herausgegeben von Pascal Eitler / Joseph Ben Prestel

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Pascal Eitler / Joseph Ben Prestel: Body Polis – Körpergeschichte und Stadtgeschichte.
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This article calls for a connection between research in urban history and the history of the body. The authors contend that while studies on the history of the body are often situated in cities, urban settings are rarely at the center of their analysis. In the same way, bodies are simultaneously a ubiquitous and understudied topic in urban history. Rather than exploring the effects of cities on bodies or the limits that bodies set for changes in cities, the article proposes a focus on the co-constitution of bodies and cities. This shift in perspective leads to paying attention to the various ways in which cities and bodies have shaped each other over time – through health policies and building codes to dance halls and sports clubs. The authors argue that such a perspective ultimately allows examining the specificity and relevance of the body polis for body politics in history.


Mikkel Thelle: Tales from the Body Public: Corporeal Citizenship and Appropriation of Public Space in Copenhagen around 1900.
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How can we approach the interaction between body and city as political? This article moves through a sequence of cases in which bodies - groups, crowds, or swarms of people - have affected the public space of Copenhagen around 1900. First, election day is investigated for its contradictory spectacle of the public egalitarian crowd and the singular subject of the secret ballot. The analysis then turns to political marches of the period, considering the way participants in these marches produced and appropriated their routes during the intensified political tensions of the 1880s and 1890s. The strange phenomenon of New Year riots at City Hall Square and the anarchist attack on the Stock Exchange, as the final examples, serve to show a pattern of bodily agency, on a scale from the least to the most contested crowdings. In this way, the article seeks to locate the body in the discussion of public space in cultural history that has for some time been focusing on materiality.


Linda Braun: Dancing in Step with Society: American Popular Dances and the Urban Body between Regulation and Amusement in Imperial Berlin (1900-1914).
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This article analyzes the urban body in Imperial Germany through the lens of an integral part of night life: popular dancing. In the first decade of the twentieth century, American popular dances appeared in Berlin and other European metropoles. The cakewalk and various step dances replaced the established tradition of popular dancing: In general, American popular dances did not follow a choreography but instead allowed the leading (usually male) dancers to experience more autonomy and combine figures more freely. The dancing bodies moved into more directions than previously with the waltz. Even more importantly, individuals from different social strata enjoyed the same dances, often in the same locations. Such concepts and social practices of popular dancing might suggest that American dances softened or transformed social distinctions. This article shows that a new physicality of dancing, the accessibility of American popular dances to all social strata, and the possibility of learning the new dances via imitation did not change social behavior in Berlin’s dance halls. In Berlin, dancing bodies moved in new ways but previously established social distinctions continued to limit contact between social strata: Urban bodies danced in step with German norms.

I-Wen Chang: Modernity and the Formations of Female Bodies: Dance Hall Culture in Taiwan during the 1920s and 1930s.
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This article examines the bodily discipline of comportment in Taiwanese society with a focus on the formations of modern female bodies during the Japanese "Dōka" (literally "assimilation") policy era (1919-1936). It investigates the cultural relevance of dance in terms of bodily discipline and the negotiation of identities in urban spaces. With archival research and the examination of the documentary Viva Tonal: The Dance Age (2003), this article looks at how the idea of modernity was brought to Taiwan during the Japanese colonization era through various bodily techniques. It argues that dance halls and social dance are locations in which the moving body in urban Taiwan negotiated and subverted specific forms of resistance and agency.

Stefan Höhne: Containerkörper. Zur Genese logistischer Regierungstechniken in New York City, 1900-1950.
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In the densely populated Metropolises around 1900, we can witness the emergence of a new bodily paradigm: the container body. Focusing on the New York City subway, the largest urban transit system of the twentieth century, this article traces the dynamics of standardizing and modularizing the passengers’ bodies while black-boxing their emotions in favor of ideas of input and output. In implementing these ideals into both the materialities and logistics of the system, the engineers not only aimed to counter the perceived problem of the uncontrollable and irrational urban masses. By linking these strategies of containerization with an ethics of containment, they also helped to give rise to a crucial program of subjectivation in late modernity.

Sascha Schießl: Von der Duldung zur Reglementierung. Städtische Prostitutionspolitik in Göttingen während der 1960er Jahre.
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While the “sexual revolution” in 1960s West Germany is usually associated with more open discussions of sexuality and the partial removal of moral laws from the penal code, this article shows that female prostitutes in the city of Göttingen continued to be subject to regulations and repressions. Under the pretext of upholding their version of public order, local authorities sought to abolish street prostitution and restrict the trade to newly established brothels. Even though these measures violated federal law, authorities still aimed at controlling the female body and disciplining a segment of the urban population that was perceived as deviant and unruly. As the article sheds light on these local dynamics, it provides a new vista on the “sexual revolution”, highlighting how prostitutes did not benefit from social changes in this context and how local developments could diverge from broader discourses concerning sexuality, bodies, and morals.