2017 International Conference
Bodies in the Streets: Somaesthetics of City Life
The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture hosted a 2-day conference, January 26–27, 2017, at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
Cities are defined by their complex network of busy streets and the diverse multitudes of busy people that populate and animate those streets through their physical presence and bodily actions. The human bodies and movements we find in the streets often differ dramatically – the elegant flâneur or strolling window-shopper versus the homeless beggars who make the pavement their bed, the crowds who fill the streets in protest and the patrolling law-enforcement officers who police them. If cities are shaped by human bodies, then those bodies are reciprocally shaped by the spaces, rhythms, and logics of city life. What are the somaesthetic qualities of urban living, its affordances, and challenges (from better cultural and medical services to the cramped quarters and polluted air that many city dwellers must endure)? What are the somatic images of urban life? What paths or models of somaesthetic thinking can help us bring the rich diversity of city life into a more rewarding harmony that remains dynamically progressive? This conference will address these questions from the perspectives of the visual arts, literature, urbanism, philosophy, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, and the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics.
Selected papers may be developed for publication in The Journal of Somaesthetics (https://journals.aau.dk/index.php/JOS) or in an edited book based on the conference papers.
The conference program is now available. To view, click here.
A comprehensive list of our 2017 conference presenters and abstracts may be viewed by following this link.
You may read the press release by following this link.
2016 International Conference
Bodies of Care: Somaesthetics of Vulnerability
The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture hosted a 2-day conference, January 28–29, 2016, at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
Bodies are obviously the targets of one’s daily care in terms of personal hygiene, grooming, exercise, and proper nourishment. They are also objects of care in the sense of worry or concern, since we all suffer illness and death through our bodies. However, the sentient, purposive, active body or soma is also a subjectivity that examines and cares for the body as object, whether it be one’s own body or the bodies of others who one wants to help or comfort. We all need such curative help or comfort at some point in our lives; and some people devote their professional and personal lives to giving such care. Bodies need and give care in many ways and for many reasons: to overcome illness and disability, to address and alleviate dependence, to learn new skills and remedy bad habits, to inspire greater confidence for personal flourishing and greater social betterment. This conference will examine the wide range of somatic conditions that require care and the variety of somatic methods of providing such care, while exploring how these conditions and methods are represented in cultural theory, health and wellness studies, literature, and the arts.
Selected papers may be developed for publication in The Journal of Somaesthetics (http://journals.aau.dk/index.php/JOS) or in an edited book based on the conference papers.
2015 International Conference
Bodies of Belief: Somaesthetics of Faith and Protest
The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture hosted a 2-day conference, January 29–30, 2015, at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
Human bodies are shaped not only by their genetic endowment but also by the belief systems of the cultures in which they develop and function. Such belief systems vary from unarticulated background assumptions to ritualized practices and explicit doctrines or even to formulated laws enacted and enforced by social institutions. The beliefs that the human soma embodies and expresses are not confined to established social norms; they also include items of faith and commitment that are individualistic, nonconformist, or even antagonistic to the cultural mainstream. More than a mere instrument of compliance or worship, the soma is also a site and weapon of protest.
The conference explored the ways through which beliefs and their corresponding values are embodied and somatically contested in such cultural fields as religion, politics, ethics, and the arts. How are beliefs acted upon or counter-acted by bodies in these fields? How do artistic or literary representations reflect on such bodily actions or themselves participate in these actions? Selected papers will be developed for publication in The Journal of Somaesthetics http://journals.aau.dk/index.php/JOS.
The conference schedule is posted here.
2014 International Conference
Mindful Body in the Arts of Eating
The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture hosted a 2-day conference, January 23–24, 2014, at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
Eating is an essential activity for human life, and without such life there is no thought, no theory, no art. While eating is a need, knowing how to eat is often said to be an art that requires intelligence, knowledge, and imaginative creativity. As another maxim puts it: Animals feed; humans eat; and the wise know how to eat. What considerations guide our eating? How could we make them more intelligent and rewarding? A multitude of diverse factors affect our forms of eating and our choice of food: economic, medical, gustatory, ethical, social, and aesthetic. How do we balance them for a more mindful, healthier, more gratifying art of eating?
This conference explored the art of eating by considering the different sciences and arts that examine and guide the ways we eat and drink. These include the various fields that impact gastronomical theory (from health sciences and cooking to agriculture and economics) and fields that concern the ways food and eating are represented in literature, social theory, and the arts.
Please click here to view the official press release.
Please click here to view the final program.
2013 International Conference
Body and Technology: Instruments of Somaesthetics
The Center for Body, Mind, and Culture hosted a 3-day conference, January 24-26, 2013, at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
The human body is our basic instrument for life, the basis for the creation and use of all our other tools or technologies. As the body has shaped technology, so technology is increasingly reshaping the body: not only by reshaping our bodily habits through which we experience and act in the world but also through the incorporation of prosthetic devices and drug enhancements. Regarding the body as a sensitive sentient soma, rather than as a merely material machine, this conference rethought the relationship between body and technology, focusing on such topics as human-computer interaction, robotics, medical and fitness technologies, technology and the environment, and technologies of the arts. We welcomed papers from the perspectives of both the sciences and the humanities.