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Plastic bodies: sex hormones and menstrual suppression in Brazil.

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Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Abstract

In Plastic bodies, Emilia Sanabria skilfully explores the intertwinement of menstruation management and sex hormones use in the city of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. She shows how these phenomena reverberate far beyond individuals, rippling through social classes and social relationships, ideas of race, educational status, state and private healthcare systems, politics, economies, and experiences, as well as shaping understandings of pain, discomfort, and personal hygiene. Starting from a description of menstrual suppression observed in Salvador, this meticulously structured ethnography cuts through the neoliberal notions of choice, forces of pharmaceutical marketing, and shockingly flexible interpretations of evidence-based medicine in Bahia to talk about understandings of bodies as malleable, or plastic. Rather than being a trait that allows the use of bodies to achieve personal aspirations, this plasticity is something to be managed through continuous observations of one’s body and appropriate work on it to achieve desired goals, expressed in categories of sexual desire, emotional balance, and/or beauty, among others.

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Journal Title

JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

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Journal ISSN

1359-0987
1467-9655

Volume Title

26

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All rights reserved