Barbara Sutton


This article draws on memories from the 2003 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil in order to examine the role of naked bodies in relation to politics. Focusing on a specific moment within the flurry of (embodied) activities at the World Social Forum, this piece explores the tensions, contradictions, and opportunities arising from the use of nakedness as a political tool. The naked body is examined as a subject of political resistance and as an object of repression, highlighting how the meanings of nakedness are marked by gender and connected systems of social inequality. The analysis shows that while turning human bodies into commodities, particularly sexual commodities, is acceptable under Western hegemony, naked bodies of resistance can lead to social outrage and violent punishment.

Author Biography

Barbara Sutton is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University at Albany-SUNY. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Oregon (2004) and a Law degree from the National University of Buenos Aires (1993), Argentina, where she was born and raised. Professor Sutton’s scholarly interests include globalization, body politics, human rights, women’s and global justice movements, and intersections of inequalities based on gender, class, race-ethnicity, sexuality, and nation, particularly in Latin American contexts.