Problematizing humanity: creative bodies and spirits
Mally Stelmaszyk (University of Edinburgh)
Alysa Ghose (University of Edinburgh)
Magdalen Summer Common Room
Start time:
20 September, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Bodies transcend humanity and open up a sociality between humans and spirits that challenges conceptualizations of being human. In this panel, we invite papers that focus on human and non-human interactions and the ways in which these are grounded in diverse embodied practices of communication.

Long abstract:

This panel is about how bodies open up a sociality between and among humans and spirits. It focuses on how diverse embodied practices of communication might illuminate this process. We invite papers from a variety of ethnographic contexts that seek to unravel complex webs of interactions in which humans and spirits are continuously enmeshed through the body. Bodily experience and corporeal schemas form a contextual means of relating to and being in the world (Desjarlais 1997, Fanon 1986 [1952]), but what happens when spirits are inherent in everyday experience? If interactions between spirits and humans can be conceptualized through 'somatic modes of attention' (Csordas 1993), what kind of scripts are inscribed onto the body via these modes? Which relationships with spirits become possible through them? Bodies do things: they are significant, active and discursive. For example, afflicted bodies can become tangible, material evidence of situated tensions and dynamics in shifting relations between humans and non-humans. Entranced bodies can engage in creative and imaginative means of collaborative knowledge production. This panel welcomes all contributions that wish to explore how bodies as fields of action can produce particular kinds of persons and discuss how fluid relations entailing humans and spirits might affect bodies while challenging our conceptions of being human.