Iconicity and the Invisible Crisis of Reclaimed Gender Identity: The Case of Agora and the Visible Human Project
The final decades of the 20th century witnessed the advent of theories and practices committed to radical revisionism of received epistemic paradigms vis-à-vis formerly marginalised groups. While the impact of gender, race, postcolonial and subaltern studies has been felt beyond the academe in everyday interactions, the backlash has not been tardy, either. In what follows, I investigate gender identity representation in two vastly dissimilar contemporary projects which ostensibly reclaim
... ibly reclaim women's place in society and thinking alike, and whose dissemination is far and wide, hence their iconicity, too. In chronological order, they are the US National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project (1989–95) and Alejandro Amenabár's film Agora (2009). The VHP prides itself in providing data sets for the scientific study of the human body as both male and female. Agora reclaims a voice for Hypatia, the female philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and teacher of Alexandria, who fell victim to the patriarchal intolerance of early Christianity. For all their merits in drawing attention to women, the two projects can also be faulted for their biased identitary representations. While examining the literature on the VHP and resorting to Said's Orientalism in Amenabár's case, my comparative analysis aims to uncover and analyze gender-related conflicts and identity displacements at work within both.