Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Anthropologists (and sociologists, historians, etc.) have, over the course of the past century, theorised and examined how bodies are central to how we are in the world as humans (cf. Csordas 1994, 1990; Lock & Farquhar 2007). However, as cultural anthropologists, we have seldom examined how bodies are framed—how underlying structures give these bodies shape(s)—, even through our explorations of their ‘fleshy’ depths (cf. Lammer 2006. 2002). Skeletal bodies (i.e. the musculoskeletal system) are part and parcel of the multifaceted ways in which bodies are involved in complex and contingent every day embodied struggles—as we cannot separate our ‘fleshed’ bodies from their musculoskeletal ‘frames’.
This paper explores the ways in which skeletal bodies are ‘lived’ in the context of two alternative health care practices in Victoria, BC: Chiropractic care, and yoga; I present the results of fieldwork done from 2017-2018 conducted with practitioners and clients of both practices, using participant-observation, interviews, and body maps. The ‘demystification’ of ‘the’ skeletal body by chiropractic care and yoga (albeit in different and complex ways) creates space(s) for participants to experience their bodies in the context of health practices outside of allopathic/traditional biomedicine. However, this paper argues that, despite extricating skeletal bodies from the allopathic/traditional medical system(s), chiropractic care and yoga also function to reinforce particular, deeper (neoliberal) power struggles, and ideas about ‘health’ and ‘healthy bodies’ (Lavrence & Lozanski 2014; Lock 2001).