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Dancing, moving, unsettling

written by Anna Harris

STOCKHOLM, 9th March 2018 – The 15th EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) Biennial Conference has opened it’s doors. The conference, which has the theme of “Staying, Moving, Settling” will be held at Stockholm University from 14-17 August, 2018.

The list of panels is impressive! Below you can find the one we are involved in, with colleagues from the inspiring Life of Breath project. The panel is supported by the Medical Anthropology Network. Please consider applying to the panel! Deadline is 9th April.

Peggy Olislaegers, dance dramaturge, unsettles and archives the body

{This image is from Anna’s 2016 article in The Senses & Society called “The Sensory Archive” in which she discusses a public art event exploring the theme of training the senses. The event was a collaboration between Anna and the choreographer, Peggy Olislaegers, at the Marres House for Contemporary Culture}


Movement, stasis and interoception: unsettling the body

Andrew Russell (Durham University)

Anna Harris (Maastricht University)

Jane Macnaughton (Durham University)

The movement of bodies is a key focus of attention for wellbeing and health in both clinical and non-clinical contexts. For example, the training of health professionals involves the unsettling of the body to take on new forms of movement in relation to examination techniques, caring practices and surgical procedures. These new movements must become embodied, or settled within the body in order for practices to become expert and second nature. Secondly, for those with a chronic illness, new approaches to movement are also gaining increased attention, not just because of their role in enhancing fitness, but because they direct individuals’ attention upon the body. Chronic debilitating illness, such as respiratory disease, is often associated with reduced bodily movement, and in turn with poor interoceptive (internal body) awareness. Reduced interoception is equated with problems of accuracy in symptom perception, and can lead to worsening outcomes, loss of agency and control. New approaches to movement in community settings, including arts-based interventions using dance or singing in the case of lung disease, aim to unsettle habitual embodied states. These are just two examples of possible topics this panel might address in applying anthropological concepts and techniques to better understand the relationships between movement, stasis, interoception, health and wellbeing. It thus offers a different take on the conference theme of ‘moving’, one that focusses on how movement unsettles and reorients individual, social and political bodies, enabling new perspectives not only on moving but on stasis and repose.