2 Şubat 2012 Perşembe

body techniques-habilis-craft: readings for embodied knowledge

Body techniques

Mauss describes 'techniques of the body' as highly developed body actions that embody aspects of a given culture. Techniques may also be divided by such as gender and class (for example in the manner of walking or eating).
These include such as eating, washing, sitting, swimming, running, climbing, swimming, child-rearing, and so on.
The techniques are adapted to situations, such as aboriginal squatting where no seats are available. Techniques are thus a 'craft' (Latin: habilis) that is learned.
Hence I have had this notion of the social nature of the 'habitus' for
many years. Please note that I use the Latin word-it should be understood
in France-habitus. The word translates infinitely better than
'habitude' (habit or custom), the 'exis', the 'acquired ability' and 'faculty'
of Aristotle (who was a psychologist). It does not designate those
metaphysical habitudes, that mysterious 'memory', the subjects of
volumes or short and famous theses. These 'habits' do not just vary
with individuals and their imitations, they vary especially between
societies, educations, proprieties and fashions, prestiges. In them we
should see the techniques and work of collective and individual practical
reason rather than, in the ordinary way, merely the soul and its
repetitive faculties.

(Mauss, 1973, p.73).
The teaching of these methods is what embeds the methods and the teaching is embedded within cultures and schools of teaching. A pupil who becomes a teacher will likely teach what they are taught.
Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu developed the ideas further in habitus, the non-discursive aspects of culture that bind people into groups, including unspoken habits and patterns of behavior as well as styles and skill in body techniques.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Elias, N. (1978). The History of Manners. The Civilizing Process: Volume I. New York: Pantheon Books
Elias, N. (1982). Power and Civility. The Civilizing Process: Volume II. New York: Pantheon Books
Mauss, Marcel. 1934. Les Techniques du corps, Journal de Psychologie 32(3-4). Reprinted in Mauss, Sociologie et anthropologie, 1936, Paris: PUF

Fieldnotes may be no more than a trigger for bodily and a hitherto subconscious memories. We cannot write down the knowledge at the time of experiencing it, although we may retrospectively write of it in autobiographical modes. The specific ways in which we learned awaits recounting (Okely 1978). Bourdieu notes how the body can be treated “ as a memory” (1977: 94), it cannot always be consciously controlled. Anthropologists acquire a different bodily memory in fieldwork experience as an adult in another culture. The commonplace analogy between the anthropologist and a child learning another culture is misleading since the anthropologist is already formed and shaped by history. He or she has no change or superimpose new experience upon past embodied knowledge (Mauss 1938), and come to terms with a changing self embodied in new contexts.

Okeley, J. (1992). Anthropology and autobiography: Participatory experience and embodied knowledge.Routledge. London and NY, p. 16

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