Corporeality & material ecology: the affordances of stuff and wellbeing
Kelly Fagan Robinson (University of Cambridge)
Timothy Carroll (UCL)
Magdalen Old Law Library
Start time:
20 September, 2018 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The maintenance of health and wellbeing demands a continual engagement with the material of the body and its environment. What does this mean practically and analytically?

Long abstract:

The body is a physical thing in the world. It allows certain happenings and hinders others. Health is, consequentially, produced through engagement with affordances of the body. Affordances - taken here as the possibilities based on the qualities of surface and form of material stuff - shape the person and (and in) their environment as sinews, skin, bone, blood, eyeballs, fingers and more.

This panel explores the fleshy parts of life and the wellbeing of people within their material ecology, grappling with the body as a thing: a contained aggregate with a purpose. We take "material ecology" to denote the set of all relata (person and thing, object and substance, tangible and intangible) with which the subject relates in a given space/time. As bodied subjects, people must maintain the health and wellbeing of the body in order to stay alive. This simple fact of life demands both continuous engagement with the quotidian mysteries of life and the periodic - and at times cataclysmic - encounter with medical and/or ritual intervention.

As such, the panel invites papers that unpack the qualities and affordances of human and non-human matter, mapping out the engagement between the body and its ecology. We are particularly interested in anthropological papers that actively engage across the sciences (be it medical, physical, material, engineering, etc.) through questions investigating affordances, within the themes of, for example:


-the built environment

-material infrastructure (of bodies and spaces)