Controlling Bodies in the Face of Extinction
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This thesis will discuss how the fear of extinction is tied to the control of bodies in several ways within the novels The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Dawn by Octavia E. Butler. Firstly I discuss how the fear of extinction is used in The Handmaid’s Tale to control the female reproductive body. I will focus on how the fear of extinction is used as an excuse to establish this control and how women’s bodies are objectified in order to do so, and discuss how this is achieved by using Braidotti’s theory on hypervisualisation and organs without bodies, and work from the field of critical animals studies. Then I discuss how the power to define what is seen as extinction is used in Dawn to control the reproductive body. I discuss the interspecies relationship between the humans and the alien species, how the alien species bases their superiority over the humans on the fact that they are more intelligent and how the relationship between the humans and the aliens resemble the way humans treat endangered species. And in the last chapter I examine how the parties in power in these novel try to control disabled people and create a future in which disabled people become completely erased. By dehumanizing disabled people they are not allowed a space to exist within these worlds. The erasure of disability in these novels stems from the fact that in ableist societies people with disabilities are seen as people who don’t have a future. As a result their presence in these novels become tied to the idea of extinction, since their existence stands in the way of preventing extinction.