In Poetics of the Flesh Mayra Rivera offers poetic reflections on how we understand our carnal relationship to the world, at once spiritual, organic, and social. She connects conversations about corporeality in theology, political theory, and continental philosophy to show the relationship between the ways ancient Christian thinkers and modern Western philosophers conceive of the "body" and "flesh.” Her readings of the biblical writings of John and Paul as well as the work of Tertullian illustrate how Christian ideas of flesh influenced the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault, and inform her readings of Judith Butler, Franz Fanon, and others. Rivera also furthers developments in new materialism by exploring the intersections between bodies, material elements, social arrangements, and discourses through body and flesh. By painting a complex picture of bodies, and by developing an account of how the social materializes in flesh, Rivera provides a new way to understand gender and race.
"Mayra Rivera’s Poetics of the Flesh is an elegant exploration of the sensual, political, and theological fashioning of our materiality. Moving from ancient Christian texts to the most up to date material feminisms and postcolonial discourses, this book insistently returns us to the unsettled and elusive vitality of flesh even in the most unpromising theoretical contexts, and opens up the promise and possibility that our flesh, formed by those contexts, might through its practices change them in turn."
— Karmen MacKendrick, author of Divine Enticement: Theological Seductions
"Mayra Rivera has written a timely book, which brings to bear a novel notion of incarnation on matters of the flesh as a continually metamorphosing relational coexistence of matter and spirit, rhythm and texture, the epidermal and the cellular, the organic and the inorganic, the somatic and the carnal, and so on. Poetics of the Flesh charts a viscously embodied voyage from the Gospel of John and the writings of Tertullian to the more recent thought of Franz Fanon, Luce Irigaray, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Édouard Glissant, and Judith Butler in which Mayra Rivera reclaims the flesh as a pivotal site for the co-constitutive animation of body and world. In doing so, Rivera’s wonderful book makes indispensable contributions to post-colonial and religious studies, continental philosophy, and critical theory."
— Alexander Weheliye, author of Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human