You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New International Version)
Mind, body and soul are often believed to be the few things a person will own in their entirety throughout their lifetime. Through possession and loss, we come into contact with objects, relationships and personal experiences, yet the body for many remains one’s own. Western individualistic approaches to the body, where capitalist values dominate, paint the body as something to be continuously challenged, improved and mastered. In other societies, the body is the product and shared responsibility of the community rather than of the self (Becker, 1994). However, what happens when one’s body no longer belongs to them? In what ways can the body be bought and sold? What are the social, cultural, political and moral implications in the selling, purchasing and ownership of another’s body? These are some of the questions I will delve into from an anthropological perspective. Commodification, which I shall define as attributing inanimate and immaterial entities with material qualities and monetary value, is a highly contested and transformative process which permeates throughout many spheres of modern social life. The human body, often believed to be a social, organic and virtuous symbol of humanity is reduced to a rational, neutral and soulless object. How does the commodification of the body impact the construction of the self? Let’s explore.
Becker, A. (1994). Nurturing and negligence: working on others’ bodies in Fiji in T.J Csordas (ed.) Embodiment and experience: the existential ground of culture and self, p.100-115, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Corinthians 6:19-20 New International Version, [Online] Available from: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+6:19-20 [Last Accessed 28th January 2016]