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Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory

Clarendon Press (1998)

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  1. Educating the Design Stance: Issues of Coherence and Transgression. Commentary on Bullot & Reber.Norman H. Freeman & Melissa L. Allen - forthcoming - Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
  • Process, Habit, and Flow: A Phenomenological Approach to Material Agency.Tailer Ransom - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):19-37.
    The artefactual environment is not just the passive, inert background against which the drama of human and non-human animal life plays out; but rather, the built environment plays an active role in the structure of agency. This is an insight that Lambros Malafouris has articulated in his framework of Material Engagement Theory. I will discuss the enactive-embodied and dynamic approaches to cognition and action, emphasizing the ways that this approach leads to taking MET seriously by force of its own theoretical (...)
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  • "Worlds Otherwise": Archaeology, Anthropology, and Ontological Difference.Ben Alberti, Severin Fowles, Martin Holbraad, Yvonne Marshall & Chris Whitmore - unknown
    The debate concerning ontology is heating up in the social sciences. How is this impacting anthropology and archaeology? What contributions can these disciplines make? Following a session at the 2010 Theoretical Archaeology Group conference at Brown University (“‘Worlds Otherwise’: Archaeology, Theory, and Ontological Difference,” convened by Ben Alberti and Yvonne Marshall), a group of archaeologists and anthropologists have continued to discuss the merits, possibilities, and problems of an ontologically oriented approach. The current paper is a portion of this larger conversation— (...)
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  • Materiality of Marble: Explorations in the Artistic Life of Stone.Alison Leitch - 2010 - Thesis Eleven 103 (1):65-77.
    This article is inspired by theoretical developments within the social sciences that focus on the materiality of everyday objects and processes. Based on ethnographic research in the city of Carrara, in central Italy, the article discusses the experiences of both quarry workers and sculptors who work with marble. Through an exploration of one of the ‘qualisigns’ of marble — veining — the article draws attention to the material life of marble in the artistic imagination of sculptors and why materiality might (...)
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  • The Artwork Made Me Do It: Introduction to the New Sociology of Art.Eduardo De La Fuente - 2010 - Thesis Eleven 103 (1):3-9.
    The sociology of art has experienced a significant revival during the last three decades. However, in the first instance, this renewed interest was dominated by the ‘production of culture’ perspective and was heavily focused on contextual factors such as the social organization of artistic markets and careers, and displays of ‘cultural capital’ through consumption of the arts. In this article, I outline a new mode of approaching art sociologically that begins with Alfred Gell’s (1998) Art and Agency, but comes to (...)
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  • Archaeology in the Humanities.Norman Yoffee & Severin Fowles - 2011 - Diogenes 58 (1-2):35-52.
  • Common Minds, Uncommon Thoughts: A Philosophical Anthropological Investigation of Uniquely Human Creative Behavior, with an Emphasis on Artistic Ability, Religious Reflection, and Scientific Study.Johan De Smedt - unknown
    The aim of this dissertation is to create a naturalistic philosophical picture of creative capacities that are specific to our species, focusing on artistic ability, religious reflection, and scientific study. By integrating data from diverse domains within a philosophical anthropological framework, I have presented a cognitive and evolutionary approach to the question of why humans, but not other animals engage in such activities. Through an application of cognitive and evolutionary perspectives to the study of these behaviors, I have sought to (...)
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  • At the Potter's Wheel: An Argument for Material Agency.Dr Lambros Malafouris - 2007 - In Cogprints.
    Consider a potter throwing a vessel on the wheel. Think of the complex ways brain, body, wheel and clay relate and interact with one another throughout the different stages of this activity and try to imagine some of the resources (physical, mental or biological) needed for the enaction of this creative process. Focus, for instance, on the first minutes of action when the potter attempts to centre the lump of clay on the wheel. The hands are grasping the clay. The (...)
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  • Situating Darśan: Seeing the Digambar Jina Icon in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century North India.John E. Cort - 2012 - International Journal of Hindu Studies 16 (1):1-56.
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  • What Is Art Good For? The Socio-Epistemic Value of Art.Aleksandra Sherman & Clair Morrissey - 2017 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11.
    Scientists, humanists, and art lovers alike value art not just for its beauty, but also for its social and epistemic importance; that is, for its communicative nature, its capacity to increase one's self-knowledge and encourage personal growth, and its ability to challenge our schemas and preconceptions. However, empirical research tends to discount the importance of such social and epistemic outcomes of art engagement, instead focusing on individuals' preferences, judgments of beauty, pleasure, or other emotional appraisals as the primary outcomes of (...)
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  • Embodied Niche Construction in the Hominin Lineage: Semiotic Structure and Sustained Attention in Human Embodied Cognition.Aaron J. Stutz - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
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  • Is Religion a Necessary Condition for the Emergence of Knowledge? Some Explanatory Hypotheses.Viorel Rotilă - 2019 - Postmodern Openings 10 (3):202-228.
    By using the general investigation framework offered by the cognitive science of religion (CSR), I analyse religion as a necessary condition for the evolutionary path of knowledge. The main argument is the "paradox of the birth of knowledge": in order to get to the meaning of the part, a sense context is needed; but a sense of the whole presupposes the sense (meaning) of the parts. Religion proposes solutions to escape this paradox, based on the imagination of sense (meaning) contexts, (...)
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  • Representing Belief? A Look at Forms of Contemporary Visual Art in Northern Ireland.Louise Delaney - 2001 - The European Legacy 6 (6):741-750.
  • Ritual Agency, Substance Transfer and the Making of Supernatural Immediacy in Pilgrim Journeys.Andreas Nordin - 2009 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 9 (3-4):195-223.
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  • The Cognitive Basis of Material Engagement: Where Brain, Body and Culture Conflate.Lambros Malafouris - 2004 - In [Book Chapter].
    In this paper I attempt to sketch a preliminary framework for understanding the cognitive basis of the engagement of the mind with the material world. I advance the hypothesis that contrary to some of our most deeply-entrenched assumptions the relationship between the world and human cognition is not one of abstract representation or some other form of action at a distance but one of ontological inseparability. That is, what we have traditionally construed as an active or passive but always clearly (...)
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  • Deixis and Desire: Transitional Notation and Semiotic Philosophy of Education.Derek Pigrum - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 48 (4):574-590.
    The philosophical underpinnings of this article are the Peircian notion of the triadic nature of the sign as iconic, linguistic and indexical, and the use of the sign as a ‘Zeug’ or thing as a means of pointing to or deixis in the context of creative activity in the classroom. This involves Lyotard's conception of desire as the generation of a space where the pupil can be affected by what the world donates. Both deixis and desire take on added value (...)
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  • Is It 'Me' or is It 'Mine'? The Mycenaean Sword as a Body-Part.Dr Lambros Malafouris - 2008 - In Cogprints.
    This paper argues that material culture has the ability to change and shape our bodies by transforming and extending the boundaries of our body schema. To explore this argument I concentrate on the relationship between the Mycenaean body and the Mycenaean sword. Focusing on the early Mycenaean period I propose that the centre of consciousness and bodily awareness for the Mycenaean person, and for the warrior in particular, is not some ‘internal’ Cartesian ‘I’, but the tip of the sword. Through (...)
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  • Reality, Fiction, and Make-Believe in Kendall Walton.Emanuele Arielli - 2021 - In Krešimir Purgar (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Image Studies. pp. 363-377.
    Images share a common feature with all phenomena of imagination, since they make us aware of what is not present or what is fictional and not existent at all. From this perspective, the philosophical approach of Kendall Lewis Walton—born in 1939 and active since the 1960s at the University of Michigan—is perhaps one of the most notable contributions to image theory. Walton is an authoritative figure within the tradition of analytical aesthetics. His contributions have had a considerable influence on a (...)
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  • I Am Mind, Therefore I Am Map. Mapping as Extended Spatio-Temporal Process.Sonia Malvica & Alessandro Capodici - 2021 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 12 (3):242-253.
    : The multifaceted nature of the map animates a wide range of debates that reveal its interdisciplinary nature. Our goal is to overcome classical cognitivism harmonizing the fields of neuroscience, geography, and enactivism to promote a holistic view not only of the map, but also of human beings and, more specifically, of the dynamic subject-world relationship. We have retraced the spatiality of the body and described the spatial dimension of implicit and explicit bodily skills and properties involved in the exploration (...)
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  • Turning Outside In: Infolded Selves in Cuban CreoleEspiritismo.Diana Espírito Santo - 2015 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 43 (3):267-285.
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  • Death of the Passive Subject: Intentional Action and Narrative Explanation in Archaeological Studies.Artur Ribeiro - 2018 - History of the Human Sciences 31 (3):105-121.
    In recent years some archaeological commentators have suggested moving away from an exclusively anthropocentric view of social reality. These ideas endorse elevating objects to the same ontological level as humans – thus creating a symmetrical view of reality. However, this symmetry threatens to force us to abandon the human subject and theories of meaning. This article defends a different idea. It is argued here that an archaeology of the social, based on human intentionality, is possible, while maintaining an ontology that (...)
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  • Consumption Patterns Under a Universal Basic Income.Ian P. MacInnes & Martha A. Garcia-Murillo - 2021 - Basic Income Studies 16 (2):257-298.
    In this paper, we challenge one of the criticisms against the idea of a universal basic income, namely, that people will waste the support on high-end consumption. We rely on the literature from various disciplines from which we developed high- and low-UBI scenarios for respondents to decide what they would do if the state were to provide an unconditional stipend. We analyzed the multiple-choice responses, using an ordered probit, and the written explanations of the respondents’ choices, using content analysis. The (...)
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  • What’s the Matter with Cognition? A ‘Vygotskian’ Perspective on Material Engagement Theory.Georg Theiner & Chris Drain - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (5):837-862.
    The cross-disciplinary framework of Material Engagement Theory (MET) has emerged as a novel research program that flexibly spans archeology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive science. True to its slogan to ‘take material culture seriously’, “MET wants to change our understanding of what minds are and what they are made of by changing what we know about what things are and what they do for the mind” (Malafouris 2013, 141). By tracing out more clearly the conceptual contours of ‘material engagement,’ and firming (...)
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  • Early Body Ornamentation as Ego-Culture: Tracing the Co-Evolution of Aesthetic Ideals and Cultural Identity.Antonis Iliopoulos - 2020 - Semiotica 2020 (232):187-233.
    While the “symbolic” meaning of early body ornamentation has received the lion’s share of attention in the debate on human origins, this paper sets out to explore their aesthetic and agentive dimensions, for the purpose of explaining how various ornamental forms would have led interacting groups to form a cultural identity of their own. To this end, semiotics is integrated with a new paradigm in the archaeology of mind, known as the theory of material engagement. Bridging specifically Peirce’s pragmatic theory (...)
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  • Human-Animal Meeting Points: Use of Space in the Household Arena in Past Societies.Kristin Armstrong Oma - 2013 - Society and Animals 21 (2):162-177.
    The construction and use of space is highly structuring in the lives of household members of both human and non-human animals. The choice of social practice is embedded in the ways in which both human and non-human animals physically organize the world around them. The architectural vestiges of houses—both in terms of the distribution of material culture within and surrounding them, and architectural choices—provide frameworks for a social practice that was shared between humans and living, domestic animals, or animal materiality. (...)
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  • Understanding the Hermeneutics of Digital Materiality in Contemporary Architectural Modelling: A Material Engagement Perspective.Kåre Stokholm Poulsgaard & Lambros Malafouris - forthcoming - AI and Society.
    This article develops a framework for analysing how digital software and models become mediums for creative imagination in architectural design. To understand the hermeneutics of these relationships, we develop key concepts from Material Engagement Theory and Postphenomenology. To push these frameworks into the realm of digital design, we develop the concept of Digital Materiality. Digital Materiality describes the way successive layers of mathematics, code, and software come to mediate enactive perception, and the possibilities of creative material engagement actualised in work (...)
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  • The New Mind: Thinking Beyond the Head. [REVIEW]Riccardo Manzotti & Robert Pepperell - 2013 - AI and Society 28 (2):157-166.
    Throughout much of the modern period, the human mind has been regarded as a property of the brain and therefore something confined to the inside of the head—a view commonly known as ‘internalism’. But recent works in cognitive science, philosophy, and anthropology, as well as certain trends in the development of technology, suggest an emerging view of the mind as a process not confined to the brain but spread through the body and world—an outlook covered by a family of views (...)
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  • Playing with Clay and the Uncertainty of Agency. A Material Engagement Theory Perspective.Paul March - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):133-151.
    I describe how close attention to the process of sculpting clay from the perspective of Material Engagement Theory can create a detailed description of a mutable sense of agency and of self. First, I show that sculpting is associated with a loss of sense of agency and self. Second, that to sense agency as a systemic phenomenon creates anxiety. Third, that meaning in an art encounter develops in association with an anterospective viewpoint. Fourth, that within the logic of the extended (...)
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  • The Hand and Cognition… and Intersubjectivity, Agency, Culture, and More. A Review of The Hand, an Organ of the Mind: What the Manual Tells the Mental. [REVIEW]Christopher Drain - 2014 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 5 (2):279-291.
    A review of 'The Hand, an Organ of the Mind: What the Manual Tells the Mental', ed. Zdravko Radman.
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  • Creativity Refined: Bypassing the Gatekeepers of Appropriateness and Value.Alan Dorin & Kevin Korb - unknown
  • Sensing Art and Artifacts: Explorations in Sensory Museology.David Howes, Eric Clarke, Fiona Macpherson, Beverly Best & Rupert Cox - 2018 - The Senses and Society, 13 (3):317-334.
    This article proposes a sensory studies methodology for the interpretation of museum objects. The proposed method unfolds in two phases: virtual encounter via an on-line catalog and actual exposure in the context of a handling workshop. In addition to exploring the écart between image and object, the “Sensing Art and Artifacts” exercise articulates a framework for arriving at a multisensory, cross-cultural, interactive understanding of aesthetic value. The case studies presented here involve four objects from the collection of the Hunterian Museum (...)
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  • Art and Spirit: The Artistic Brain, the Navajo Concept of Hozho, and Kandinsky’s “Inner Necessity ”.Charles D. Laughlin - 2004 - International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 23 (1):1-20.
  • Visual Style Hermeneutics: From Style to Context.Jakub Stejskal - 2021 - World Art 11 (2):201-227.
    This essay re-examines the once promising idea that style analysis can provide an independent source of insight into an artifact's non-stylistic context. The essay makes explicit the consequences of treating collective style as such a source in archaeology and anthropology of art, and further develops a new framing for the idea that avoids the criticisms largely responsible for the decline in theoretical interest in the epistemic import of visual style analysis since World War II. This re-framing proposes that inference from (...)
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  • Empathy or Empathies? Uncertainties in the Interdisciplinary Discussion.Andrea Pinotti & Massimo Salgaro - 2019 - Gestalt Theory 41 (2):141-158.
    Summary The term empathy has become a linguistic commonplace in everyday communication as well as in interdisciplinary research. The results of the research questions, raised in the last hundred years, coming from different areas, such as aesthetics, psychology, neurosciences and literary theory, lack in fact a clear concept of empathy. Not surprisingly, a recent paper has identified up to 43 distinct definitions of empathy in academic publications. By reconstructing the main research lines on empathy, our paper highlights the reasons for (...)
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  • Cosas del ritmo.Adriana Guzmán - forthcoming - Rhuthmos.
    Resumen : Cosas del ritmo : cosas del estar vivo. En esta ocasión interesa explorar los ritmos y el ritmo como experiencia y como concepto, buscando hacerlo, además, desde el ritmo mismo, es decir, desde rhuthmos, aquello que se rinde al flujo de la gestualidad humana, posibilidad de toda aprehensión y conocimiento de sí y del mundo, universo de fuerzas que están presentes a cada instante y que es posible observar con determinación inaudita en la danza o en el ritual, (...)
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  • From the Body Image to the Body Schema, From the Proximal to the Distal: Embodied Musical Activity Toward Learning Instrumental Musical Skills.Jin Hyun Kim - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
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  • Sacred Sounds: The Cult of Pan and the Nymphs in the Vari Cave.Carolyn M. Laferrière - 2019 - Classical Antiquity 38 (2):185-216.
    Religious ritual in ancient Greece regularly incorporated music, so much so that certain instruments or vocal genres frequently became associated with the religious veneration of specific gods. The Attic cult of Pan and the Nymphs should also be included among this group: though little is often known about the specific ritual practices, the literary and visual evidence associated with the cults make repeated reference to music performed on the panpipes—and to auditory and sensory stimuli more generally—as a prominent feature of (...)
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  • Creative Thinging.Lambros Malafouris - 2014 - Pragmatics and Cognition 22 (1):140-158.
    Humans are organisms of a creative sort. We make new things that scaffold the ecology of our minds, shape the boundaries of our thinking and form new ways to engage and make sense of the world. That is, we are creative ‘thingers’. This paper adopts the perspective of Material Engagement Theory and introduces the notion ‘thinging’ to articulate and draw attention to the kind of cognitive life instantiated in acts of thinking and feeling with, through and about things. I will (...)
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  • The Creativity of Undergoing.Timothy Ingold - 2014 - Pragmatics and Cognition 22 (1):124-139.
    Creativity is often portrayed as an X-factor that accounts for the spontaneous generation of the absolutely new. Yet the obsession with novelty implies a focus on final products and a retrospective attribution of their forms to unprecedented ideas in the minds of individuals, at the expense of any recognition of the form-generating potentials of the relations and processes in which persons and things are made and grown. In these processes, practitioners are characteristically called upon to copy the works of past (...)
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  • Representing and Coordinating Ethnobiological Knowledge.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84:101328.
    Indigenous peoples possess enormously rich and articulated knowledge of the natural world. A major goal of research in anthropology and ethnobiology as well as ecology, conservation biology, and development studies is to find ways of integrating this knowledge with that produced by academic and other institutionalized scientific communities. Here I present a challenge to this integration project. I argue, by reference to ethnographic and cross-cultural psychological studies, that the models of the world developed within specialized academic disciplines do not map (...)
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  • Choreography and Ceremony: The Artful Side of Action.Wendy James - 2007 - Human Affairs 17 (2).
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  • Emergent Practices of an Environmental Standard.Ritsuko Ozaki & Isabel Shaw - 2016 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 41 (2):219-242.
    Recent climate change statistics attribute over a quarter of carbon emissions to residential energy use in the United Kingdom. To address this, a building standard was introduced to aim to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption. This paper analyzes how such an environmental standard reconfigures the sociotechnological relations and practices of housing professionals that design, construct, and manage social housing. We focus on how actors engage with the standard’s recommendation for incorporating low and zero carbon technologies (...)
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  • Animation and Automation – The Liveliness and Labours of Bodies and Machines.Lucy Suchman & Jackie Stacey - 2012 - Body and Society 18 (1):1-46.
    Written as the introduction to a special issue of Body & Society on the topic of animation and automation, this article considers the interrelation of those two terms through readings of relevant work in film studies and science and technology studies, inflected through recent scholarship on the body. Drawing upon historical and contemporary examples, we trace how movement is taken as a sign of life, while living bodies are translated through the mechanisms of artifice. Whereas film studies has drawn upon (...)
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  • Introduction: Blood Donation, Bioeconomy, Culture.Jacob Copeman - 2009 - Body and Society 15 (2):1-28.
    This article explores nationalist interpretations of blood donation activity, examining how some Indians read integrative messages into the practical procedures through which blood is donated and distributed. The first post-Independence Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, proclaimed the need for `national integration' as a bulwark against a myriad of linguistic, caste and ethnic agitations that threatened to disrupt the unity of the newly formed nation-state. This article shows that a striking manifestation of the Nehruvian ideology of national integration possesses a (...)
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  • Failed Recipients: Extracting Blood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital.Alice Street - 2009 - Body and Society 15 (2):193-215.
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  • Doing Wholeness, Producing Subjects: Kinesiological Sensemaking and Energetic Kinship.Hanne Bess Boelsbjerg, Hanne Kjærgaard Walker, Line Hillersdal & Kristina Grünenberg - 2013 - Body and Society 19 (4):92-119.
    This article is concerned with the ways in which bodies and subjects are enacted and negotiated in the encounter between client and practitioner within specialized kinesiology – a specific complementary and alternative medical practice. In the article we trace the ideas of connections and disconnections, which are conceptualized and practised within kinesiology. We attempt to come to grips with these specific notions of relatedness through the introduction of the concept ‘energetic kinship’ and to relate them to more general discussions about (...)
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  • Gendering Humanoid Robots: Robo-Sexism in Japan.Jennifer Robertson - 2010 - Body and Society 16 (2):1-36.
    In humans, gender is both a concept and performance embodied by females and males, a corporeal technology that is produced dialectically. The process of gendering robots makes especially clear that gender belongs both to the order of the material body and to the social and discursive or semiotic systems within which bodies are embedded. This article explores and interrogates the gendering of humanoid robots manufactured today in Japan for employment in the home and workplace. Gender attribution is a process of (...)
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  • Things That Matter. Agency and Performativity.Anna Caterina Dalmasso - 2020 - Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi Dell’Estetico 13 (1):155-168.
    In contemporary human and social sciences, it has become almost a commonplace to attribute to objects and artefacts the features of personhood and subjectivity. In the last decades, significant attempts have been made, in different disciplines, to show how things and material realities have the power to act upon the world and to transform human cognition as well as social processes. In order to describe the transformative power of things, scholars have then recurred to the semantic sphere of action and (...)
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  • Phaedra's Defixio: Scripting Sophrosune in Euripides' Hippolytus.Melissa Mueller - 2011 - Classical Antiquity 30 (1):148-177.
    While readers of Euripides' Hippolytus have long regarded Phaedra's deltos as a mechanism of punitive revenge, I argue here that the tablet models itself on a judicial curse and that its main function is to ensure victory for Phaedra in the upcoming “trial” over her reputation. In support of my thesis I examine three interrelated phenomena: first, Hippolytus' infamous assertion that his tongue swore an oath while his mind remains unsworn ; second, Phaedra's status as a biaiothanatos; and third, Phaedra's (...)
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  • Future World: Anticipatory Archaeology, Materially Affective Capacities and the Late Human Legacy.Leila Dawney, Oliver Harris & Tim Flohr Sørensen - 2017 - Legacy Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4 (1):107-129.
    Using the 2010 film Into Eternity as a springboard for thought, this article considers how archaeologies of the future might help us make sense of how to seek commonality and take care across vast temporal scales. The film, about a nuclear waste repository in Finland, addresses the impossibility of communicating across millennia. In thinking with this film, we engage with recent responses to the post-human call, arguing that they are inadequate in dealing with the new questions that are asked by (...)
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