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Somatic Modes of Attention Author(s): Thomas J. Csordas Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, ), pp. Published by: Wiley on behalf of. Somatic Modes of Attention Author(s): Thomas J. Csordas Reviewed work(s): Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, ), pp. Somatic Modes of Attention Thomas J. Csordas DepartmentofAnthropology Case WesternReserve University. Embodimentas a paradigmor methodological.

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Could he have analyzed other ethnographic settings to make his argument? Hanks,William Text and Textuality. Why did Csordas choose to explore an embodiment framework through healing?

Somatic Modes of Attention — Cultural Anthropology

Insteadof an existential indeterminacy,Bourdieu’s is a logical indeterminacy,which limitsitselfto anyone aspectof thetermsit links, neverexplicitlyor systematically buttakeseachone,eachtime,as a whole,exploitingto thefullthefactthattwo”data” are never entirelyalike in all respectsbut are always alike in some respect Ricoeur, Paul The Model of the Text: Although glimpsesof thebodyhave appearedregularlythroughoutthehistoryof ethnography e. Attentoon explores the implications of csordaw dialectic for the ambiguity of analytic concepts and for the concept of indeterminacy.

They are performedonly as horizons,they constitutein realitynew regions in attemtion total world The categoriesof trance and altered states of consciousness remain virtual blackboxes, andone colleague’s suggestionof”proprioceptivedelusion”is no help at all.

As the physician’s own pulse emerges and becomes confluent with that of the patient, the “indexicaldistance”between the signs decreases, until the relationshipbetween the two pulses is transformedinto an iconic one, andthe two signs become one.

Thereis, afterall, a deep springof knowledge aboutourpatientsthatis only slightly tapped in our conscious work” For Barthes, the work is a csodas of substance,the materialobject that occupies the space of a bookstoreor a library shelf. For example, the influentialsynthesis by Scheper-Hughesand Lock clearly lays out the analyticalterrainclaimed by an anthropologyof the body.

Somatic Modes of Attention

Conditions for Creativity in Ritual Language. CatholicCharismaticshave elaboratedPentecostalfaith healing into a system thatdistinguishesamongphysical,emotional,demonic,andancestral sources of affliction, and addresseseach with specific ritual techniques Csordas To best understandthe theoreticalorigin of this problematic,it is useful to distinguishbetween what has come to be called the anthropologyof the body and a strand of phenomenology explicitly concerned with embodiment.


If the same insightcan also be arrivedat throughotherapproaches,I would at least arguethatembodiment offers a way to understandit in moredepth. The sensation engages something in the world because the body is “alwaysalreadyin the world.

Most important,he argues that such experiences are communicationfrom patients,and againsttraditionaltheoriesof countertrans- ference thatimpugnthem as pathologicalreactionsof the therapist. We will leave our discussionwith a summary of these issues.

In Interpretive Social Science. As far as my reading goes, I think this is the case in much of the literature on the anthropology of emotion. A healerwho reportsan “anointing”by God refers to a somatic experiencethatis takento indicateeitherthe generalactivationof divinepower,or the specifichealing of an individual.

On the pathological side, the hyper-vigilance associatedwith hypochondriaand somahic the various degrees This content downloaded from Culture,Medicine, and Psy- chiatry7: Ironically,the approachthroughembodimentthathas allowed us to elaborate somaticmodes of attentionas attentuon constructwith some demonstrableempiricalvalue has also disclosed the rather slippery notion of the essential indeterminacyof existence. A strongrepresentationalist bias is evidentmost notably in the predominance of Foucauldian textualmetaphors,such as thatsocial reality is “inscribed in the body,” and that our analyses are forms of “readingthe body.

Indiana University Press, If language is understood first of all as an expression of, in Merleau-Ponty’s term, our “sonorous being,” then it’s already invested with affect. For example, she can tell if the person is in bondage to Satan,and she gets an unspecifiedsensation as the person is set free. Yet if we allow the other sensory modalities equal This content downloaded from This content downloaded from My impression is that affect studies originates outside anthropology and with little interaction with the anthropology of emotion.

If thatis so, thenprocesses in which we attend to andobjectifyourbodies shouldhold a particularinterest. Recently I’ve felt an obligation to do so, and the first step in this direction is my piece “Embodiment: If you cut your finger while slicing bread,you’ll attendto your moes in a way that is moreor less culturallydetermined Is it spirituallydangerous?

To recognize the embodiedness of our being-in-the-worldis to discover a common groundwhere self andotherareone, for by using one’s body in the same way as others in the same environmentone finds oneself informedby an understandingwhich may thenbe interpretedaccordingto one’s own customorbent,yet which remainsgrounded in a field of practicalactivity and thereby remainsconsonant with the experience of those among whom one has lived.


JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, modws build upon a wide range of attdntion in a trusted digital archive.

It is evident that some of these examples suggest more or less spontaneous culturalelaboration,whereasotherssuggest modes thatare consciously cultivated cf. Our elaborationof this construct will provide the groundsfor a reflection on the essential ambiguityof our own analyticconcepts, as well as on the conceptualstatusof “indeterminacy”in the paradigmof xsordas ment and in contemporaryethnography.

Conclusion Approachingculturalphenomena from the standpointof embodimenthas allowed us to define a constructof somatic modes of attention,which has in tur led us to a principleof indeterminacythat underminesdualities between subject and object, mind and body, self and other. Foucault,Michel The Birthof the Clinic: First,whereasfor CatholicCharismaticsanointingsaredirect experiences of divine power and words of knowledge are divinely empowered direct experiencesof the modws, for espiritistas, the corresponding experiencesarethe workof spiritsthatenteror possess the healer.

Protestant Pentecostals,typically of more working-class provenance,tend to require some somatic manifestationas a sign of a demon’s departurefrom its host.

An Archaeologyof Medical Perception. The Birthof the Prison. How can this be, however, when analytical psychology attengion itself the source of precisely the kind of data we wish to analyze under the heading of somatic mode of attention?

Women’s Suffering in Southern Peasant Italy. In its postmoder aattention interpretivepossi- bilities, it poses a challenge of reflexivity for the participantobserver, and in so doing, it arguesthatthe domainof interpretivepossibilities is continuousbetween those of observerand those of observed.