Bodies of all kinds surround us. Glamorous bodies, modified bodies, healthy or unhealthy bodies, engineered bodies, trafficked bodies, in/visible bodies, dismembered bodies, persecuted bodies—ubiquitous and ever-present, we cannot help but notice them. But how do understand them? Through stories. Both fiction and non-fiction stories shape our understanding of what constitutes a/the body in the first place, and then create norms about how a body should look, behave, experience the world and even how bodies should interact with each other. Further, stories shape our perceptions of what constitutes deviant, abject, non-normative, frightening or otherwise undesirable bodies.
The concept of the body itself has had a significant impact on the stories cultures have created and passed down through generations. Suffering bodies are central to the foundational narratives of various religious, cultural and political traditions. Monstrous bodies, sexual and erotic bodies, bodies at war, modified bodies, bodies coming of age and ageing, bodies being tested by nature, bodies enhanced by (bio)technology, politicised bodies and more, all are core to respective story genres.