Touch and Affect: Analysing the Archive of Touch Biographies

Body and Society 25 (1):29-56 (2019)
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This article examines touch and its significance from an affect studies perspective. Touch makes our bodies more-than-one in a very concrete way, yet in body and affect research it has largely remained a philosophical abstraction, with few empirical explorations. Our theoretical deliberations are based on empirical material consisting of ‘touch biographies’ written by people of various backgrounds in the 2010s in Finland. The biographies are embodied-affective data, and our analysis of them offers a novel perspective on the ways touch forms a part of affective relations and communal history. Touch works in and between bodies through affects in social bonds. Moreover, the exploration of touch biographies demonstrates that people draw upon different affective repertoires, and their experiences concerning touch are highly variable. The touch biographies highlight diverse and multi-temporal ways of attuning to, registering and recognising the social as it happens. Furthermore, our discussion opens up a new perspective on the study of affective privilege and inequality.



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