Rachel Louise Moran, "Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique" (U Penn Press, 2018)


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How did the modern, American body come into being? According to Rachel Louise Moran this is a story to be told through the lens of the advisory state. In her book, Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), she tracks the emergence of the American advisory state -- a key analytic introduced and developed by the author in this book -- and draws attention to polyvalence of bodies as both instruments and objects of public policy. Presenting a series of “body projects” which were pursued both formally and informally by the US federal state, Moran makes a case for the persistent political uses of physique throughout more than a century. In this manner, the author manages to tell a story not only of state expansion and citizenship, but also of gender roles, heteronormativity, standards of normality, and weight. This book, therefore, will be of great interest not only to US historians but also scholars interested in the medicalization of the body, gender and sexuality, childhood development, public health, and fat studies.

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