2005_11_08rev - Culture Embodiment and the Senses Tuesday...

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Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses Tuesday, 08 November 2005 Reading Robert R. Desjarlais, Body and Emotion: The Aesthetics of Illness and Healing in the Nepal Himalayas, chs. 8-10, pp. 198-253. Our current texts have less to do with political economy. What does the methodology permit you to understand of local life and what does it fail to explore? Desjarlais could have given more attention to political economy locally and social tensions in the society as part of a broader “political body” (Scheper-Hughes & Lock). By giving much more weight to sensory experience, he was more successful in trying to give the reader a sense of daily life to the Yolmo people. What is it that anthropologists attend to? W Desjarlais looks at the aesthetics of experience from a microcosmic orientation. W Could he adequately represent illness through experiential ethnography ? How does illness and healing fit into the Yolmo world view? Yolmo healing is situated in their social relations , geographic space and landscape. In their cosmology – heaven, hell, and the human realm – the body and illness is always addressed in the world of ritual so that the ritual is extended. “aesthetics of experience” The aesthetic is also the ethical – looking at experience at this local level also deals with examining people’s values in a microcosmic way – how people move through space, how they get ill, how attend to everyday life. Unless you attend to everyday experience, it will be hard to understand illness. How does gender figure into this text? W emotional expression – women, children, the elderly are portrayed as not having a strong connection between the heartmind and the brain (like Enlightenment discourse in West) W what is highly valued (and, by extension, politically valued) is the ability to contain emotions W what is happening in the social order and how it accords to the conception of anatomy W Desjarlais = sickness as result of social tensions but no political critique within the society (e.g. feminist critique) – thus there is a naturalization of the [gendered] social order W Scheper-Hughes and Lock = illness as a form of political protest W e.g. shamans re-harmonize the social order – not a political body analysis but instead looks at aesthetic/sensory experience (a weakness of the text is this lack of political context) songs are prescriptive – how you should feel and how you should express yourself, also provides context for people to express emotion through indirect medium of the song 11/08/05, page 1 of 4
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p. 142: divination that woman has lost her spirit, malaise/sorrow from losing family members
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2005_11_08rev - Culture Embodiment and the Senses Tuesday...

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