Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures Producing Culture by Carrie Noland

By Carrie Noland

In Agency and Embodiment, Carrie Noland examines the ways that tradition is either embodied and challenged in the course of the corporeal functionality of gestures. Arguing opposed to the constructivist metaphor of physically inscription dominant considering Foucault, Noland keeps that kinesthetic adventure, produced through acts of embodied gesturing, locations strain at the conditioning a physique gets, encouraging adaptations in cultural perform that can't rather be defined.

Drawing on paintings in disciplines as various as dance and stream thought, phenomenology, cognitive technological know-how, and literary feedback, Noland argues that kinesthesia―feeling the physique move―encourages scan, amendment, and, every now and then, rejection of the regimen. Noland privileges corporeal functionality and the sensory adventure it gives as a way to have the opportunity past constructivist theory’s lack of ability to provide a resounding account of corporation. She observes that regardless of the impression of social conditioning, people proceed to invent astounding new methods of changing the inscribed behaviors they're known as directly to practice. via lucid shut readings of Marcel Mauss, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, invoice Viola, André Leroi-Gourhan, Henri Michaux, Judith Butler, Frantz Fanon, Jacques Derrida, and modern electronic artist Camille Utterback, Noland illustrates her provocative thesis, addressing problems with quandary to students in serious idea, functionality stories, anthropology, and visible studies.

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Sample text

A technique of the body, the practice of which is socially sanctioned and reinforced, can actually shape the material body; the phenomenon of squatting is thus social and physiological at once. ” The normal tendency of an infant (“normal” because prefigured by the position a baby necessarily assumes in the tight space of the womb) is overlaid with social and psychological meanings to the point where its reinforcement or inhibition has little to do with what the body itself might require in order to remain healthy or to avoid pain.

22 Other critics have also declined to attribute Mauss’s growing interest in bodily techniques to a specific influence or source. ”23 But what neither of these critics acknowledge is that Mauss’s increasing interest in the study of bodily techniques was thoroughly in keeping with yet another aspect of his training in Indology, one generally not recalled in studies of his work. 24 In this neglected article, Mauss defines “Yoga” primarily through its philosophy; yet, although he attends most closely to yoga’s textual incarnations (first and foremost the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali), he also mentions the “exercices mystiques” and “pratiques” that yogic texts propose as a way of advancing the yogi toward a 36 AGENCY AND EMBODIMENT state of meditational bliss.

The assertion of this “impression particulière” seems to go against the grain of the argument Mauss has been pursuing up to this point. But as we witness here, Mauss’s move away from the Durkheimian orthodoxy is complicated and self-contradictory, involving not just one step but two. First, by leaving the “homo duplex” behind, Mauss locates the impress of the social structure not simply on the individual psyche but also on the organic body; second, he locates within this organic body a source of subjectivity, namely, the kinesthetic experience that emerges as a result of executing the socially mandated act (“l’oeuvre collective”).

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