Excorporation as an Embodied Phenomenological Attitude: Expanding the Concept for Critical Phenomenology

Maia Wellborn, Fordham University


According to Lisa Guenther, critical phenomenology is primarily interested in elucidating quasi-transcendental structures, which refer to constitutive mechanisms that shape lived experience. Typically unthematized, structures such as heteronormativity, patriarchy, racism, etc. depart from yet remain similar to the intentional structures that classical phenomenology take up as thematic objects for inquiry. Quasi-transcendental structures are both historically contingent yet are themselves “ways of seeing”—in fact, ways of being intentionally oriented in a social and cultural world. The task becomes how such structures can be available for descriptive analysis. In this thesis, I propose that we might see such elucidation in a phenomenon that scholars have called excorporation. Excorporation is an impediment to the lived body’s ability to seamlessly engage with and incorporate particular social norms and beliefs. It is the conceptual opposite of incorporation—how social norms are typically developed through a subject’s implicit history of associations, expectations, and modes of social praxis. The subject who experiences excorporation will be unable not to attend to beliefs and norms about the quasi-transcendental structure that sediments such norms. There is a descriptive power unique to excorporation because it makes conspicuous the norms that would allow structures such as gender, sex, and race to go unnoticed. It makes conspicuous their quasi-transcendental status. By framing excorporation as a methodological diagnostic, I will expand the concept, bringing it into conversation with critical phenomenology. Ultimately, excorporation can provide useful descriptive promise for projects in critical phenomenology which aim to elucidate the ways in which quasi-transcendental structures asymmetrically implicate the lived body.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Wellborn, Maia, "Excorporation as an Embodied Phenomenological Attitude: Expanding the Concept for Critical Phenomenology" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27959970.