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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Body techniques: the arts of using the human body

Location Ülikooli 16, 212
Date and Start Time 03 July, 2013 at 10:30


Valdimar Tr. Hafstein (University of Iceland) email
Ellen Hertz (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland) email
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Short Abstract

Taking inspiration from Mauss' "techniques of the body", the panel explores the ethnology of the body through case studies. Paper proposals are invited on any of the various "ways in which people know how to use their bodies": from walking, dancing, and sex to sports, hygiene, heritage, and beyond.

Long Abstract

Taking inspiration from Mauss' notion of the techniques of the body, this panel proposes to explore the current state of the ethnology of the body through various case studies. Paper proposals are invited on any of the various "ways in which people know how to use their bodies", from walking to dancing, from sports to hygiene, from sex to heritage, and beyond.

Questions to address might include: How are human bodies constituted, theorized, disciplined, carried, experienced, and placed in relation to other bodies, objects, places, ideas and social codes? How are bodies apprehended in relation to society and to time, how are their presence and movement written or transcribed, and how are social and temporal relationships inscribed on bodies? Emphasizing the body as an instrument of articulation, as a medium of performance, as a site of experience, as well as a tool of investigation, the panel will explore the contributions of body-centered perspectives to current scholarship in ethnology and folklore, and, conversely, how folklore and ethnology may contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship on the body.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Sailing post-Socialism: negotiating transformation on the Great Masurian Lakes in Poland

Author: Hannah Wadle  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses sailing tourism in the traditional Polish sailing area, the Masurian Lake District, as a realm, in which late post-socialist transformation processes take place and are negotiated bodily.

Long Abstract

With sailing on the Baltic Sea restricted during Socialism, the Masurian Lake District in the Northeast of Poland, became the most popular area of sailing in Poland, which it is still today. Based on my ethnographic field research in Masuria, I propose viewing the sailing body as a central realm of post-socialist transformation processes and their negotiation.

Looking at the experience of learning to sail on a local sailing course, I am exploring how following the 'old school of sailing', modern tourism enterprises cultivate and adapt socialist and pre-socialist bodily practices and techniques to new economic contexts. This transformation and new ordering of a young generation of post-Socialist sailors-to-be, inscribes physical cultural memory into their tourism bodies and links them bodily to an often silenced past.

Secondly, I argue that within the sailing community, body practices and techniques are a form of communicating and negotiating post-socialist identities in transformation. Not only are social distinctions in the non-tourist world between the 'old sailors' and the new 'Warsavians', played out through the use of techniques and different sets of multi-sensory experiences, also is the tourism typology of the 'sailor', shaped under the regime of socialist tourism and scarcity, newly negotiated with regards to changing tourism infrastructures and technologies.

My paper draws attention to the depth of post-socialist transformation processes, inseparable from the human experience and use of the body. Discourses of change and continuity are interwoven with the body, they can be continued, negotiated or newly established in and through it.

"Dirty... noisy... and yet wonderful": men on the steam locomotive - insights into a physical and emotional relationship

Authors: Marcus Richter (Philipp University of Marburg)  email
Peter Hörz (University of Applied Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

Doing research along the track of one of the last daily operating steam railways in Europe, we intend to give insights into the physical and emotional relationship between male engine drivers and their ‘archaic’ implement.

Long Abstract

Among the 'heirlooms' GDR handed over to the unified Germany were 70 narrow-gauge steam locomotives which are still running in East-Germany where eight lines were kept in operation as tourist and regular railway lines. And up to farther they will be preserved as an important part of the East German experience economy. What continuous on narrow-gauge tracks is a technologically and organizationally unsimultaneous daily railway service provided by paid-up employees.

The technology is outdated and the work on the engines could be called 'archaic'. Yet, what is crucial are the emotions that result from the relation between the 'black men' and their engines! These emotions refer to a 'counterworld' in which space and time had different meanings and technology still seemed to be under control by men. However, they also result from the male body experience.

In our talk we would like to give insights into the relationship between the male engine staff and their implement. In doing so, we will focus the interaction between the male body and the vintage technology which was developed before men 'delegated strength, personality, authority, authenticity and pioneer spirit to more and more efficient devices and instruments'.

Beyond what is verbally expressible, we furthermore intend to find answers on the question why the 'archaic' work place appears so attractive and emotional to those who are working on steam engines. To convey the physical-sensory as well as the masculine materiality of the work beyond its verbal descriptiveness, our approach therefore includes elements of visual anthropology.

Consumer's logistics on screen: an analysis of ordinary carrying behaviors' videos

Authors: Hélène Ducourant (Université Toulouse 2)  email
Franck Cochoy (University of Toulouse / CERTOP)  email

Short Abstract

Research on good logistics mostly focuses on how goods are shipped around. It rarely puts on the front line the way they go in consumers' home through individual carrying behaviors. The presentation describes the ordinary behaviors of placing goods on one's body to displace them in two countries.

Long Abstract

Research on good logistics mostly focuses on how goods are shipped around through motorized means of transportation. It rarely puts on the front line the way goods go in consumers' home through their personal carrying behaviors. Nevertheless, the practice of displacing one's goods on the body is universal and pervasive in commercial and urban scenes. Moreover, such non motorized delivery techniques challenge sustainable development and urban politics.

Undertaking such research on consumer's logistics faces several difficulties: Most of these carrying practices do not imply a high level of reflexivity from carriers. Interviews would be an irrelevant method to catch such behaviors. An innovative protocol is requested: the video recording of urban and commercial scenes. Videos are excellent tools to view at a slow pace how people load their goods on their body and how they displace them.

Some of the chosen video spots are self-service rental bikes stations in city centers. These areas are key places of urban logistic since a large part of the users are shoppers carrying bags and goods. Moreover, at the stations, goods change from pedestrians to cyclists and vice versa. Therefore, they have to readjust their carrying techniques. An international comparison of behaviors at rental bike stations in France and Sweden has been adopted in order to access possible cultural trends.

Bodies of (and) desire

Author: Begonya Enguix (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork on Spanish Pride celebrations and in-depth interviews on the enactment of masculinities, the present proposal aims to analyse the use/s of bodies as significant tools where desire, gender and sexuality are intertwined with identity, consumption and protest.

Long Abstract

Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork on Spanish LGTB Pride Celebrations and in-depth interviews on the enactment of masculinities , we aim to analyze how bodies are used to signify and articulate different social experiences. Some of these experiences are related to the social meanings about sexuality and gender; some other experiences deal with the postmodern conceptualization of issues such as identities, desires, practice and consumption. Through the study of the different bodies that are exhibited and exposed in Pride celebrations in Spain, and the analysis of some interviews on men's bodies in relation to masculinity, we define a context of research in which bodies become sites of social and personal inscriptions and performances enacted through the use of different 'techniques' which we aim to unfold here. Among these techniques we will consider body complexion, hair, ornaments, dress, and the use of body for (and as) social protest.

We also wish to interrogate the methodological tools that can be used to carry on this type of investigation and learn how bodies can be apprehended, written and transcribed.

Dress as a technique of body in performing the gender

Author: Arja Turunen (University of Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

In my paper I discuss changes of dress as a change of body techniques. The paper is based on my research project on the adoption of trousers in women’s dress in post-war Finland.

Long Abstract

Clothing and dress have traditionally been typical subjects of the ethnological study of the material culture. Recently, in the dress studies, the dress has been studied as a technique of body and as a gendered bodily practice. Researchers of dress have participated in the theoretical discussions of the body and embodiment by pointing out that the human bodies that are being studied are usually dressed bodies and that dress has a central role in the ways in which people know how to use their bodies. Dress is also the means by which bodies are made decent, appropriate and acceptable.

In my paper I discuss the change that took place in women's dress and in their lives as trouser-wearing became acceptable for women. Trousers have traditionally been a male garment and the symbol of masculinity as well. Therefore, the change in dress was also a major change in the ways in which body and gender was performed and understood. The paper is based on my ongoing research project on the adoption of trousers in women's dress in post-war Finland. The research material consists of written oral histories in which women (aged 50 to 80 years) reminiscence the process of adopting the trousers and the public discussion it aroused. I ask, how did women themselves experience the change in dress? How did it change their techniques of body and the way they performed gender?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.