My flesh, your flesh, our desire to be flesh-to-flesh, the word became flesh, “I don’t eat flesh”: invocations of the flesh abound. Flesh is a widely circulating term that has purchase for a number of contexts. From the biblical, to the political, and to the phenomenological, many differently situated people have used the term flesh. Flesh has indexed various social and ontological positions (states of being and their rank in the hierarchy) that attempt to mark the boundaries of self and other or ideal states of existence. For millennia, sacred texts like the Torah (Hebrew Bible) and the Christian Bible have referred to the flesh as both sacred (transcendent, holy) and profane (immanent, sinful). At times, social actors and scholars have talked about flesh as a stand-in for the body, and in other moments, flesh has been talked about as distinct from the body. The keyword flesh is difficult to track and even more difficult to fix to one stable meaning within the field of gender and sexuality studies. One of the reasons for this is that the field draws from and is shaped by various theoretical “turns” or traditions ranging from poststructuralism, phenomenology, Black studies, Indigenous studies, woman of...

This essay may be found on page 93 of the printed volume.

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