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 due to the fact Foucault, Noland keeps that kinesthetic event, produced via acts of embodied gesturing, areas 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 circulation concept, phenomenology, cognitive technology, and literary feedback, Noland argues that kinesthesia―feeling the physique move―encourages test, amendment, and, every now and then, rejection of the regimen. Noland privileges corporeal functionality and the sensory adventure it offers so that it will have the option past constructivist theory’s lack of ability to supply a powerful account of service provider. She observes that regardless of the effect of social conditioning, humans proceed to invent impressive 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 difficulty to students in severe conception, functionality reviews, anthropology, and visible studies.

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Extra info for Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures Producing Culture

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In an essay devoted to Merleau-Ponty that sheds considerable light on Mauss as well, Judith Butler has meditated on the way the birth of the self as capable of interoception is predicated by Merleau-Ponty on contact, through touch, with the other. In “Merleau-Ponty and the Touch of Malebranche,” Butler explicates Merleau-Ponty’s grounding condition for self-hood in the following terms: “it is only on the condition that a body is already exposed to something other than itself, something by which it can be affected, that it becomes possible for a sentient self to emerge”; “I cannot feel if nothing touches me.

As Karsenti and Merleau-Ponty both take occasion to observe, even when the anthropologist is making his strongest argument for the predominance of the social over the psychophysiological, or the collective over the individual, Mauss remains committed to the category of individual experience as crucial to the portrait of how culture evolves. That is, “even when the mind of the individual is entirely invaded by a representation or a collective emotion,” he observes in “Real and Practical Relations,” “even when his activity is entirely devoted to a collective effort [une oeuvre collective], such as hailing a boat, fighting, advancing or fleeing in battle, even then, we have to agree, the individual is the source of particular actions and particular impressions [impressions particulières]” (SA, 290; added emphasis).

Mauss signals his awareness of the crucial role of gesture transmission when he observes that the acquisition of techniques is dependent not only on the naturally mimetic attitude of infants but also on more organized or intentional forms of indoctrination. He notes that human societies are in fact distinguished from animal societies by their emphasis on the verbal transmission of gestural routines. 12 In the case of the Maori apprenticeship, the linguistic accompaniment to the gestural training is at once coercive (“you are not doing the onioi [toi tu ne fais pas l’onioi]”) and commemorative (SA, 370).

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