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Abject Cyborgs: Discursive Boundaries and the Remade in China Miéville's Iron Council
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 40, No. 3 (November 2013), pp. 496-509
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5621/sciefictstud.40.3.0496
Page Count: 14
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China Miéville's Iron Council (2004), as one of the major texts of the New Weird, is a prime example of weird fiction; as a novel concerned with the establishment and extension of territorial and economic boundaries, however, it is also a western in its thematic ethos, its aesthetic sensibilities, and its preoccupation with notions of the frontier. This article explores the social boundaries of the titular train, the Iron Council. Using Judith Butler's notion of the social abject and the materialized/dematerialized body, the article first looks at the abjected bodies of the Remade and how they are discursively and socially constructed, finding parallels with the queer figures in the novel. It then uses cyborg theory to theorize the ways these abjected bodies can be rewritten and recuperated (made to matter, in Butler's terms) and examines the ways in which the novel troubles notions of stable ontological and social boundaries, blurring distinctions among human, animal, and machine and locating, in this dissolution, the opportunity for transgression and revolution.
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