Making girls, making monsters: scarlett johansson and the white female assemblage


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MAKING GIRLS, MAKING MONSTERS: SCARLETT JOHANSSON AND THE 

WHITE FEMALE ASSEMBLAGE 

By 


 

JULIA A. EMPEY, B.A. Honours 



 

 

A Thesis 

 

Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies 



 

in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements 

 

for the Degree 



 

Master of Arts 

 

McMaster University 



 

© Copyright by Julia A. Empey, September 2015 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 


 

 

ii  



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

MASTER OF ARTS (2015)   



 

 

 



 

McMaster University 

 

(Cultural Studies and Critical Theory)    



 

 

Hamilton, Ontario 



 

 

 



TITLE: Making Girls, Making Monsters: Scarlett Johansson and the white female 

assemblage 

 

AUTHOR: Julia A. Empey, B.A. Honours (McMaster University) 



 

SUPERVISOR: Dr. Sarah Brophy 

 

NUMBER OF PAGES:  iii, 50 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 


 

 

iii  



Acknowledgements  

When  I  began  formulating  this  project,  I  was  skeptical  that  people  would  

think  that  a  topic  that  utilizes  Scarlett  Johansson  as  a  case  study  could  be  something.  

What  is  the  point  of  writing  about  a  Hollywood  actress?  Why  write  about  whiteness,  

pop  culture,  and  why  bring  assemblage  theory  into  this  tentative  mess?  These  are  

only  a  small  selection  of  the  questions  I  had  for  myself  whenever  I  answered  the  

dreaded  question:  “What  is  your  major  research  project  about?”  Fortunately,  I  had  

many  people  who  rallied  around  this  venture  and  me  throughout  this  past  year.    

Firstly,  many  thanks  to  Melinda  Gough,  my  outstanding  second  reader  who  

supported  me  throughout  the  year,  and  Susie  O’Brien,  whose  advice  and  

thoughtfulness  were  instrumental  to  my  success.  Without  Antoinette  Somo,  Ilona  

Forgo-­‐Smith,  and  Aurelia  Gatto  I  could  not  have  navigated  the  transition  from  

undergraduate  to  graduate  school.  Thank  you  to  Tim  Nolan  for  guiding  me  through  

SAS  and  who  truly  was  the  first  person  that  believed  I  was  going  to  get  into  graduate  

school.    

The  students  from  the  English  and  Cultural  Studies  and  Critical  Theory  

programs  at  McMaster  University  are  bar  none  and  I  could  not  have  asked  for  a  

better  cohort.  As  well,  thank  you  to  the  professors  and  students  in  the  Gender  

Studies  and  Feminist  Research  program,  who  welcomed  me  into  their  classes  and  

enriched  my  learning.    

The  support  of  my  friends  kept  me  focused  and  I  am  so  grateful  that  I  have  

you  all  in  my  life.  Specifically,  thanks  to  Catie  Peters,  Anna  Murdoch,  the  PAD  crew,  

Crystal  Berg,  Lynn  Ly,  and,  of  course,  Jesse  Dorey.  My  family  –  Mamusia,  Dad,  Felicia,  

and  Joey  –  thank  you  for  listening,  for  caring,  and  for  making  sure  the  coffee  pot  was  

always  full.    

Finally,  I  would  like  to  thank  my  supervisor,  Sarah  Brophy,  who  saw  the  

potential  in  this  project  and  whose  guidance,  encouragement,  and  patience  were  

very  much  appreciated.  With  her  consummate  support,  I  was  able  to  realize  that  this  

project  could  be  something.  


Empey     1  

Putting  Pieces  Together:  

why  we  need  to  read  Scarlett  Johansen  via  

assemblage  theory  

Scarlett  Johansson:  

Well,  you  put  a  little  piece  of  yourself  into  every  character  

that  you  do.  Even  if  you're  playing  some  psychotic  person,  which  of  course  

I'm  not,  some  part  of  you  is  in  that  character  and  it's  hopefully  believable.  

On  January  6,  2015,  Variety  reported  that  Scarlett  Johansson  had  been  cast  in  

a  DreamWorks  live-­‐action  adaptation  of  Ghost  in  the  Shell.  Originally  published  as  a  

manga  written  by  

Masamune  Shirow,  the  series  was  a  massive  hit  in  Japan.  Adapted  

into  an  anime  film  that  was  released  in  1995,  the  series  has  spawned  an  ever-­‐

growing  franchise.  

 Johansson’s  role  is  presently  unknown;  however,  due  to  her  star  

power  and  box  office  bankability,  she  will  most  likely  portray  a  variation  of  Motoko  

Kusanagi.  Motoko,  a  human  cyborg  who  is  contracted  by  the  Japanese  government  

to  engage  in  cyber  security  in  an  almost  post-­‐apocalyptic  Japan,  is  an  iconic  figure  

within  Japanese  popular  culture.  Johansson’s  hiring  speaks  to  Hollywood’s  notable  

problem  of  casting  white  actors  as  racialized  characters.  Within  hours  of  the  

announcement  there  was  an  outcry  against  but  also  support  for  Johansson’s  

selection.  Notably,  Forbes’  Scott  Mendelson  argues  in  his  article  “In  Defense  of  

Scarlett  Johansson  Starring  In  ‘Ghost  In  The  Shell’”  that  a  “big-­‐ticket  leading  role  of  

this  nature  should  not  be  taken  for  granted…any  number  of  male-­‐centric  would-­‐be  

blockbusters  are  headlined  by  glorified  unknowns  every  single  year.”  The  gender  

disparity  within  Hollywood  should  be  addressed  but  Johansson’s  casting  more  

pertinently  reveals  popular  culture’s  long  and  troubling  history  with  whiteness.    



Empey   2  

This  project  takes  up  key  roles  played  by  Scarlett  Johansen  since  the  early  

2000s  in  order  to  inquire  into  her  emergence  as  a  white  female  body,  a  body  that  is  

considered  to  be  a  beacon  of  progress.  The  project  works  to  trouble  the  assumption  

that  such  prominence  and  seeming  empowerment  means  true  equality.  This  

quagmire  begs  the  question:  can  a  film  be  problematic  if  a  (white)  woman  is  being  

allowed  to  occupy  a  position  of  power?  The  new  “action  girls”  with  their  “new  tough,  

autonomous  female  image”  who  “do  not  need  men  to  rescue  them  from  peril”  (Innes  

7)  allow  Hollywood  to  pat  itself  on  the  proverbial  back  for  making  a  ‘progressive’  

choice  with  regards  to  gender.  What  do  we  make  of  a  white  action  hero  whose  

primary  antagonists  and  victims  are  racialized?  When  one  does  not  take  into  

account  the  nuances  of  race  and  how  racialized  bodies  are  positioned  within  these  

films,  the  white  woman’s  presence  becomes  naturalized  and  rendered  the  default.  I  

do  not  wish  to  simply  outline  and  critique  Hollywood’s  problem  of  white-­‐washing;  

instead  I  wish  to  examine  how  white  femininity  has  been  taken  up  within  popular  

culture  as  the  new  police  force  patrolling  racialized  and  Othered  bodies  (Puar,  

Shome,  May,  and  

Schillhorn  van  Veen)

.  Further,  I  am  interested  in  not  just  who  dies  

but  also  who  is  allowed  to  live  on  through  different  forms  of  reproduction.    

I  will  be  utilizing  assemblage  theory  and  Scarlett  Johansson  will  serve  as  my  

case  study;  in  the  process,  I  will  do  a  close  reading  of  her  films  Lost  In  Translation  

and  LUCY.  The  two  films  I  am  examining  in  detail  have  Johansson  playing  young  

women  who  are  tourists  in  Japan  and  Taiwan,  respectively.  Both  characters  are  

shown  as  naïve  and  beguiling  to  those  they  encounter,  and  they  do  not  eschew  

gender  roles.  I  have  chosen  these  two  films  because,  while  overtly  Orientalist  and  



Empey     3  

racist  imagery  abounds,  I  am  intrigued  with  how  the  two  women  are  positioned  and  

made  conspicuously  mobile  within  the  film.  Both  acquire  knowledge  that  allows  

them  to  move  within  their  surroundings:  Charlotte  gazes  through  her  hotel  window  

mimicking  the  panopticon,  whereas  Lucy  consumes  against  her  will  a  drug  that  

allows  her  to  access  her  full  cerebral  capacity.  Both  women  are  presented  as  

captivating  and  inexperienced;  however,  Lucy’s  search  for  knowledge  takes  an  

overtly  sinister  twist  unlike  in  the  case  of  Charlotte.  Reading  these  films  with  and  

against  one  another,  I  will  argue  that  Charlotte  and  Lucy  are  given  power  that  is  

linked  to  their  mobility  and  that  is  granted  due  to  their  whiteness  and  their  female  

body.  This  power  is  connected  to  their  ability  to  reproduce  a  specific  form  of  

whiteness,  and  this  whiteness  is  shaped  in  relation  to  their  knowledge,  Others,  and  

location(s).  Before  I  begin  my  analysis  of  these  films  let  me  clarify  a  few  aspects  of  

my  argument  that  some  might  find  troubling.  I  will  explain  why  I  am  examining  

whiteness  when  discussing  racism,  why  I  am  using  popular  culture  as  the  site  of  my  

analysis  and  why  it  is  useful,  and  why  Scarlett  Johansson  should  be  taken  up  when  

there  is  a  overabundance  of  young  white  women  working  in  Hollywood.    

Firstly,  what  does  whiteness  have  to  do  with  discussing  race,  and,  moreover,  

in  discussing  whiteness,  do  we  risk  re-­‐centering  whiteness  within  racial  discourse?  

In  her  book,  Diana  and  Beyond:  White  Femininity,  National  Identity,  and  



Contemporary  Media  Culture,  Raka  Shome  struggles  with  centering  her  critique  

about  race  on  a  white  body.  While  there  are  valid  concerns  surrounding  critical  

whiteness  studies,  she  maintains  that  she  is  “not  willing  to  say  that  examining  

whiteness  is  ultimately  problematic  and  hopeless”  (44).  Every  theoretical  approach  



Empey   4  

engages  with  risk;  however,  the  inherent  risk  of  doing  analysis  should  not  deter  one  

from  critically  engaging  with  an  issue  or  concept.  Further,  Shome  argues  that  

“critical  whiteness  studies  in  general  have  opened  up  a  very  different  and  much  

needed  way  of  studying  racial  dominance  and  racial  formations”  (44).  Studying  how  

whiteness  “sustains  and  reinvents  itself”  (44)  to  maintain  racist  supremacy  is  

important  for  white  and  nonwhite  individuals  and  communities.  In  the  creation  of  

racial  hierarchies  and  their  enforcement,  there  are  bodies  that  are  oppressed,  and  

others  that  are  privileged.  Racism  does  not  survive  solely  on  the  oppression  of  

racialized  bodies,  but  also  on  the  affirmation  of  white  bodies  as  superior.  If  we  truly  

want  to  understand  how  racism  operates  within  our  culture  then  we  must  

understand  white  supremacy,  which  leads  me  to  my  next  point  of  contention:  why  

popular  culture?  

Stuart  Hall,  when  asked  about  the  ever-­‐elusive  definition  of  Cultural  Studies,  

boldly  states,  “No  study  of  television  programmes  or  any  other  particular  instance  of  

culture  is  in  my  view  properly  Cultural  Studies  unless,  in  the  end,  it  is  haunted  by  

the  question  –  ‘But  what  does  this  have  to  do  with  everything  else?’”  (Hall  quoted  in  

Shome  33).  Society  is  fascinated  by  popular  culture,  and  like  the  need  for  critical  

whiteness  studies,  we  have  to  understand  what  pop  culture  is  teaching  us.  Studying  

works  produced  on  the  margins  or  outside  of  pop  culture  is  important,  but  because  

pop  culture  is  so  accessible,  then,  when  we  ask,  “what  does  this  have  to  do  with  

everything  else,”  we  have  to  grapple  with  pop  culture  being  everything  else.  If  one  

truly  wants  to  understand  what  matters  to  society  one  has  to  study  what  is  being  

created.  Sherrie  A.  Innes  argues  in  Action  Chicks:  New  Images  of  Tough  Women  in  



Empey     5  

Popular  Culture  that  pop  culture  reflects  social  changes.  Drawing  from  Yvonne  

Tasker’s  work  on  the  female  action  hero,  Inness  suggests,  “the  evolution  of  women’s  

action  roles  needs  to  be  studied  because  it  reflects  the  change  of  real  women’s  roles  

in  society”  (6).  These  changes  “frequently  lie  within  a  narrow  set  of  prescribed  

social  boundaries”  (8)  that  do  not,  in  fact,  do  the  subversive  work  pop  culture  claims  

they  do.  While  there  has  been  a  surge  recently  in  female  lead  action  films,  within  

Hollywood  the  majority  of  films  are  still  led  by  men.

1

 Moreover,  the  racial  disparity  



is  only  growing  larger  with  the  majority  of  films  having  mostly  white  casts  and  

leads.  ‘Progressive’  female-­‐oriented  films  –  such  as  Kill  Bill  vol  1  and  2  (2003  and  

2004),  Elektra  (2005),  and  Salt  (2010)  to  name  some  –  cannot  claim  diversity  if  the  

majority  of  the  cast  is  white.  Even  more  disturbingly,  Hollywood  is  asking  us  to  call  a  

female  action  character,  whose  targets  are  predominantly  racialized,  a  hero.  We  

need  to  wrestle  with  the  paradoxes  that  these  characters  embody,  and  we  need  to  

examine  how  these  changes  (do  not)  develop  over  time.  The  film  industry  has  

changed  rapidly  within  the  past  decade  with  big  budget  action  movies  being  the  

majority  of  films  produced.  While  looking  at  a  single  character  or  piece  of  media  

does  allow  for  some  analysis,  if  pop  culture  is  an  ever  evolving  process  then  

examining  a  figure  across  a  spectrum  of  media  would  prove  more  fruitful.    

Scarlett  Johansson  will  be  my  case  study,  not  just  because  she  plays  a  

character  complicit  in  the  act  of  security  enforcement,  but  also  because  she  is  

“becoming  one  of  the  few  actresses  in  town  with  the  clout  to  get  a  project  greenlit  on  

                                                             

1 The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California released a fourteen-page letter on 12 May 

2015 detailing the gender disparity within Hollywood. ACLU’s letter profiled the lack of women directed 

films in Hollywood noting “only 1.9% of directors of the top-grossing 100 films of 2013 and of 2014 were 

women” (2).  


Empey   6  

her  name  alone”  (Kroll  Variety).  I  would  like  to  clarify  that  I  am  reading  Scarlett  

Johansson  as  a  cultural  text.  I  do  not  know  Johansson  outside  of  what  the  Hollywood  

throng  would  like  me  to  know.  Comparable  to  Shome’s  critique  of  Princess  Diana,  I  

am  interested  in  Johansson  “the  image,  the  media  text,  the  spectacle,  and  the  

signifier”  (39).  Johansson’s  personal  politics  aside  (she  does  tell  me  to  vote  

Democrat),  her  body  is,  to  borrow  again  from  Shome,  “an  image,  a  constantly  

shifting  text,  a  simulacrum  of  white  femininity”  (39).  Her  level  of  social  capital  

within  Hollywood  should  not  be  dismissed,  nor  should  her  long  career  or  her  box  

office  gross,  which  as  of  May  2015  is  almost  $2.5  billion.  Johansson  has  been  

working  in  the  film  industry  since  she  was  ten,  allowing  for  a  two  decade  long  

accumulation  of  films,  commercials,  advertisements,  and  a  range  of  other  media.  

Johansson  has  also  had  critical  success  from  a  very  young  age:  her  first  nominated  

work  –  an  Independent  Spirit  Award  for  Best  Female  Lead  for  Manny  &  Lo  –  came  

when  she  was  only  eleven  years  old.  What  is  distinctive  about  Johanssen’s  

filmography  is  the  recurrence  of  reproductive  politics.  When  compared  to  other  

white  actresses  within  Hollywood  whose  social  capital  is  linked  with  their  

whiteness  –  such  as  Natalie  Portman,  Jennifer  Lawrence,  or  Emma  Stone  –  

Johansson  stands  apart  for  the  prevalence  of  reproduction  as  an  issues  shown  in  her  

films.  Apart  from  Lost  In  Translation  and  Lucy,  reproduction  is  central  to  several  

characters  she  portrays  in  films  such  as  The  Island  and  more  recently  The  Avengers:  

Age  of  Ultron.  Johansson’s  body  is  routinely  positioned  as  not  only  sexually  desirable  

but  also  reproductively  viable.

2

 Further,  she  has  been  portraying  adult  characters  



                                                             

2

 As mentioned above, Johansson has starred in a number of films where her reproductive capacity and 



Empey     7  

since  she  was  16,  and  for  the  past  decade  and  a  half  she  has  been  caught  in  a  

perpetual  state  of  being  the  ideal  woman.  Johansson  was  17  when  she  filmed  Lost  In  

Translation,  where  she  acts  as  the  ingénue  to  53-­‐year-­‐old  Billy  Murray.  Johansson’s  

seemingly  perpetual  youth  contributes  to  her  social  capital;  while  she  just  turned  30  

in  2014,  she  has  not  aged  on  screen  for  more  than  a  decade.  By  playing  adults  when  

she  was  still  a  teenager  (and  then  portraying  college-­‐age  women  in  LUCY)  within  

her  films,  Johansson’s  ageing  has  been  postponed.  The  fantasy  of  her  youthful  

vitality  lasting  so  long  makes  her  ideal  for  reproductive  narratives  and  allows  an  

accumulation  of  representations.    This  suspension  within  time  is  partially  why  I  am  

reading  “Scarlett  Johansson”  across  these  characters,  and  not  simply  the  characters  

as  sole  entities.  We  cannot  remove  Johansson  from  these  characters  just  as  we  

cannot  remove  an  author  from  a  text;  her  body  is  the  vehicle  from  which  these  

characters  are  created.  Beyond  these  two  films,  her  career  is  rife  with  films  that  

proliferate  racist  tropes  and  place  her  body  at  the  centre  of  power.  There  is  a  

development  over  time  in  how  her  body  is  positioned  within  these  films,  making  the  

variety  of  ways  this  power  renders  itself  through  her  body  available  for  and  in  need  

of  critique.    

 

As  a  final  caveat,  I  will  outline  why  I  am  using  assemblage  theory  and  what  



other  frameworks  I  am  drawing  on  for  this  project,  specifically  demarcating  what  

makes  these  frameworks  viable  lines  of  thinking  about  a  body.  Jasbir  Puar,  in  her  

article  “I  Would  Rather  Be  A  Cyborg  Than  a  Goddess,”  outlines  the  shortcomings  of  

                                                                                                                                                                                     

desirability is central to her character’s development or at least shapes how the audience views her 

character. Films such as Avengers: Age of UltronThe IslandIn Good CompanyMatch PointThe 



Other Boleyn GirlUnder the Skin, and Don Jon to name some, place her body at the centre of desire 

and thematic anxiety. 



Empey   8  

intersectional  analysis,  a  mainstay  in  feminist  criticism,  arguing  “intersectionality  

always  produces  an  Other,  and  that  Other  is  always  a  Woman  of  Color…who  must  

invariably  be  shown  to  be  resistant,  subversive,  or  articulating  a  grievance”  (52).  

Intersectionality  presents  further  limitations  because  the  othering  “through  an  

approach  that  meant  to  alleviate  such  othering”  is  “exacerbated  by  the  fact  that  

intersectionality  has  becomes  cathected  to  the  field  of  women’s  studies”  (52).    

Additionally,  intersectionality  is  the  “paradigmatic  frame  through  which  women’s  

lives  are  understood  and  theorized”  and  this  problem  is  “reified  by  both  WOC  

feminists  and  white  feminists”  (52).  Like  the  term  “Woman  of  Colour”,  which  Puar  

argues  has  been  divorced  from  any  nuanced  meaning,  “intersectionality”  has  been  

utilized  so  often  that  the  term  been  distanced  from  its  original  purpose.  In  an  

interview  with  darkmatter:  in  the  ruins  of  imperial  culture,  Puar  clarifies  that  her  

concern  is  not  “about  the  formative  black  feminist  theorizing  of  intersectionality,  

which  generated  groundbreaking  interventions  into  feminist  scholarship”  (Gunkel  

and  Pitcher  darkmatter).  Puar  is  concerned  instead  “about  the  reception  and  

deployment  of  this  body  of  literature  that  tends  to  reify  intersectionality  into  forms  

of  standpoint  epistemology”  (Gunkel  and  Pitcher  darkmatter).  

Like  Puar,  

Vivian  M  

May  in  her  article,  

“Speaking  into  the  Void”?  

Intersectionality  Critiques  and  Epistemic  Backlash,”

 argues  that  intersectionality’s  

meaning  “

is  often  flattened  or  its  basic  precepts  ignored”  (96).  

I  do  not  necessarily  

agree  with  Puar  that  intersectionality  has  lost  meaning,  although  I  do  think  its  

meaning  has  changed  since  Kimberlé  Crenshaw  employed  it;  assemblage  theory  

does  present  a  new  way  of  thinking  about  identity.  Crenshaw

 desired  to  interrupt  


Empey     9  

the  erasure  of  black  women  from  social-­‐justice  frameworks,  specifically  within  the  

legal  context  (96).  According  to  May,  intersectionality’s  “theoretical  contours  

include  the  notion  that  social  location  and  the  lived  body  are  epistemically  

significant—particularly  when  contextualized  in  relation  to  institutional  practices”  

(96).  


This  attentiveness  to  the  body  and  how  the  body  is  positioned  within  society

 of  


examining  power  dynamics;  however,  

Puar  is  in  favour  of  a  shift  towards  

assemblage  theory  because  “assemblages…de-­‐privilege  the  human  body  as  a  

discrete  organic  thing”  (57).  Moreover,  assemblage  comes  from  the  French  

agencement,  a  term  that  means  design,  layout,  organization,  arrangement,  and  

relations  –  the  focus  being  not  on  content  but  on  relations,  relations  of  patterns”  and  

we  should  be  focusing  on  “not  necessarily  what  assemblages  are,  but  rather,  what  

assemblages  do”  (57  emphasis  mine).  What  an  assemblage  is  shifts  and  changes  

depending  on  context,  but  more  importantly,  an  assemblage  is  always  doing  

something  in  relation  to  other  actors.  Scarlett  Johansson  and  the  characters  she  

plays  present  not  simply  individual  bodies  as  sole  agents,  but  larger  structures  of  

power  that  are  written  onto  and  through  her  body.  Further,  because  I  am  viewing  

Scarlett  Johansson  not  solely  as  a  human  but  as  a  cultural  text,  I  have  already  begun  

the  process  of  de-­‐privileging  her  body  as  the  sole  actor.  I  am  claiming  that  Scarlett  

Johansson  constitutes  an  assemblage  that  proliferates  whiteness  and  places  her  

markedly  white  female  body  at  the  center  of  power.  In  Lost  In  Translation  and  LUCY,  

her  characters  accumulate  power  by  gathering  knowledge,  and  they  are  enabled  to  

do  so  via  their  white  femininity.  Moreover,  this  accumulated  knowledge,  and  in  turn  


Empey   10  

power,  can  reproduce  itself  vis-­‐à-­‐vis  this  assemblage,  which  exposes  how  the  white  

female  body  is  tied  to  reproductive  rhetoric.    

Such  an  assemblage  does  not  just  enforce  white  supremacy  through  violence,  

but  the  assemblage  also  proliferates  power  because  it  is  able  to  reproduce  itself.

 In  


my  reading  of  Lost  In  Translation,  I  will  discuss  Charlotte’s  concerns  over  having  

children,  and  the  freedom  not  having  children  grants  her,  but  also  how  her  future  is  

intrinsically  linked  to  her  being  a  mother.  I  will  claim  that  Charlotte’s  tourist  gaze  

allows  her  to  become  the  ideal  cosmopolitan  subject,  and,  drawing  on  Heather  

Latimer’s  article  “Pregnant

 

Possibilities



:  Cosmopolitanism,  Kinship  and  

Reproductive  Futurism  in  Maria  Full  of  Grace  and  In  America,”  

will  show  that  this  

subjectivity  is  inherently  tied  to  reproductive  rhetoric.  In  LUCY,  this  reproductive  

anxiety  is  taken  up  further  into  a  monstrous  subjectivity,  where  Lucy’s  quasi-­‐

impregnation  with  a  drug  allows  her  to  access  her  full  cerebral  capacity  but  at  the  

cost  of  her  humanity.  In  addition,  I  will  be  drawing  on  Margit  Shildrick’s  Embodying  

The  Monster:  Encounters  with  the  Vulnerable  Self,  which  examines  how  the  pregnant  

body  is  rendered  monstrous  by  society  because  it  exposes  not  only  future  

possibilities  but  also  vulnerabilities  (31).    Shildrick’s  and  Latimer’s  arguments  

illuminate  frequently  contradicting  perspectives  on  pregnancy  and  expose  anxieties  

surrounding  the  borders  of  the  body  and  the  nation-­‐state.  These  threads  tie  these  

women  to  reproduction  and  this  ability  to  reproduce  itself  is  vital  to  understanding  

how  this  assemblage  proliferates  its  power  across  a  variety  of  social  and  

technological  landscapes.  The  female  body,  particularly  the  reproductively  vital  and  



Empey    11  

desirable  body,  represents  larger  cultural  anxieties  surrounding  national  futurity  

within  the  West,  anxieties  which  are  necessary  for  white  supremacy  to  operate.    



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