site of activity and agency
The drama of socialization is a term of analysis used to begin describing the ways in which the body plays a role in being a site of agency for social-cultural impositions and implications. Setha Low, a professor in environmental psychology, uses other studies in order to further resound in a direction of analyzing the body and its function outside of the biological lens. The varying perspectives offer an explanation of which I interpret as understanding the active communication of the body and its ability to reflect a cultural reality.
Considering the body as a mobile field, I begin to think about interactions with other people and the awareness, or lack of awareness that comes with having a body- with patterns varying between cultures, Edward Hall, anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher articulated, “that any assumption of shared human experience distorts a precise understanding of the cultural dimensions of space and spatial relations”. Hall examining the space of which distortion has the capacity to exist is a key element into comprehending the many representations of society, its complexity, and the importance of acknowledging how people choose to activate their bodies in the spaces around them.
The recognition of embodied space assists in beginning to comprehend the complexities of communication and its ability to exist beyond the written and spoken languages. The body in it, and of itself is a medium that can subtly be overlooked but should not be. Defining the ‘embodied space,” is a comprise of conceptual ideas that are rooted in observation of social and cultural intersections that create and impose realities. These states of being can also be acknowledged, then accepted with the body.
The latter, in its acknowledgement, then acceptance is in some cases, specific to the social and cultural implications within America is often a reflection of the historical yielding to an upheld power- a submissiveness to cultural impositions- the relinquishing of power over the body to someone or something else- sometimes, for survival.
Ethnic Notions, the 1987 Documentary, examples the impositions onto the bodies of those who experienced Blackness. In these instances, considering the contemporary, I find that defining an embodied space for self is an imperative tool in articulating cultural realities outside of the projections of the fearful and obsessed.
Contemplating the intersection of language, sound, visual culture, and embodied space my subject position is one that has the capacity to experience heavy impositions, but also the willful power to compose, isolate, and perspect. I resonate with the ‘conceptualization of the organism’ - me, being the organism of which I control but also innately react to the spaces around me. The lived experience for myself is one that is continuously being alchemized- a horizontal compilation of lineage that allows me to comprehend social spaces and cultural identities- it also allows me to recognize the unfamiliarity to spaces in relationship to my body. My subject positions composition is progressive- never settling for an identity- it is an awareness of self in specific instances.
Embodied Space(s) Anthropological Theories of Body, Space, and Culture Setha M. Low The Graduate Center, City University of New York
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