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Body Image, Prostheses, Phantom Limbs

The body image with respect to physical disability has long been a woefully under-theorized area of scholarship. The literature that does attend to the body image in cases of physical abnormality or functional impairment regularly offer poorly articulated or problematic definitions of the concept, effectively undermining its historic analytic scope and depth. Here, I revisit the epistemic roots of the body image while also engaging the rich contemporary literature from a body studies perspective in order to situate the narratives of amputees about the relationship between dismemberment, prosthetization, phantom limb syndrome, and body image. Stories about living with artificial, fleshy, phantomed, and residual limbs unquestionably reveal a number of peculiarities unique to amputees. However, they also offer a distinctively productive ingress into the analytic utility of a ‘re-visioned’ conceptualization of the body image more broadly speaking. Indeed, the body image can function as a robust investigative tool for exploring the intersubjective, processual, and relational features of embodiment and corporeality.