Responding to Susan Sontag’s groundbreaking text Illness as Metaphor, this article analyzes breast cancer as a figure of entanglement, drawing on Karen Barad’s theory of agential realism. Communication scholars have fruitfully explored discursive constructions of breast cancer, but a material-discursive analysis of the disease, and the significant site it inhabits, provides a more robust account of the constraints and opportunities configuring bodies and social movements. To make the case, I show that agential realism is equipped to grasp breast cancer’s rhetoricity as it destabilizes binary codes of being, including language/matter, subject/object, and human/nonhuman. I then offer the concept of transmaterial intra-actionality to track entanglements of disease and target the political stakes of accounting for human and nonhuman life. I conclude with a call for corporeal solidarity: a posthuman politics that acknowledges connections across and through bodies.
- Agential realism
- Binary codes of being
- Breast cancer
- Corporeal solidarity
- Transmaterial intra-actionality