The More-Than-Human Micropolitics of the Dissection Assemblage: What Can a ‘Dead’ Body Do?

Jennifer Burr, Nick J Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Posthumanism offers a unique opportunity to examine the relationship between dead and living bodies. In this article, we explore one setting in which matter – conventionally considered as ‘dead’, demonstrates its continued vitality: the anatomical dissection room. Using data from interview transcripts, we report on the affect (capacities to affect and be affected) within this space, to reveal the micropolitics of dissection. Analysis of the ‘dissection-assemblage’ reveals how interactions between the living – students, teachers, technicians – and dead bodies not only produce knowledge and understanding of human anatomy but also show how the dead body gains new capacities to affect living bodies psychologically, emotionally and physiologically. While conventional humanist discussions of dissection have addressed how these interactions ‘de-humanise’ and ‘re-humanise’ the cadaver in this particular setting, this analysis discloses a complex micropolitics in which the conventional distinction between ‘living’ and ‘dead’ ignores the multiple ways in which all matter is vitally affective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-80
Number of pages26
JournalBody and Society
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2023

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