Accepted paper:

Sociality and imagination: food allergy enskilment in Japan

Author:

Emma Cook (Hokkaido University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the ways in which people dealing with severe food allergies in Japan develop and enact embodied skill-sets, built on embodied memory, affective imagination, and their wider social and material environments.

Paper long abstract:

Ten-year-old Hana, her mother and I are walking along a lake pathway on a hot August day. As we walk Hana suddenly tenses slightly: she has noticed an ice cream coming towards her. She edges her body towards the side of the path until it moves past. Her mum also shifts her bodily positioning, angling slightly forward as if to protect Hana as they open some space between themselves and the cone. This was not an unusual occurrence for Hana or her mother in the summer because Hana is severely allergic to milk and has had a number of anaphylactic reactions in which her body has mobilised a rapid immune response. Allergens are something that allergic bodies (over)react to (to varying degrees), however, they are also more than that. Individuals with experience of severe food allergies tend to be attuned to the presence of their allergens in their environments through memories, imagination and enskilment (Ingold 2000) that imbue food allergens with more meaning than a random 'protein' they are allergic to. Through embodied memory and affective imagination, allergens become agents that are enacted through affective meshworks (Ingold 2011). They become more than a substance, more than a protein or material: instead they become something imbued with a potential life of its own. This paper looks at the ways in which people dealing with severe food allergies develop and enact embodied skill-sets, built on embodied memory, affective imagination and their wider social environments.

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Skills of feeling with the world: affective imagination, embodied memories and materiality in the emergence of sociality