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How we Feel: Cultural Variations on a Natural Theme

Monday 15 November 2021, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Noga Arikha (Warburg Institute)

Noga Arikha will speak on 'How we Feel: Cultural Variations on a Natural Theme.' This seminar runs as part of the 'Emotions, history and the Body' research seminar series.

'Much science has emerged in the past two decades that analyses the experience of emotion, yielding what is known as the “affective turn” in psychology and neurosciences, along with the upstaging of reason as what was historically viewed as most interesting about humans, or better, its redefinition in terms that include our feeling, and indeed communicative, inter-related, social selves. In this talk I propose to draw a line between the scientific study of emotions and anthropological considerations about them - between our animal nature and the grounding of emotion in the physiology of feeling, and our capacity to study our story-telling selves and create symbolic cultures. Cultural anthropology is post-Darwinian in that it studies humans as an evolved species. But our distinguishing trait is indeed the creation of cultures. What is the status of emotions, then? On what grounds do studies of physiology and cultural variation meet? This talk is an opportunity for me to connect the scientific study of our feeling, embodied selves, about which I have been writing, with the birth of cultural anthropology and the ideas of Franz Boas, my current subject of investigation.'

The histories of emotion and the body are core concerns of AboutFace: The Cultural and Affective History of Face Transplants. They are also increasingly important themes in all fields of historical research, including the histories of medicine, ethics and gender. AboutFace is delighted to hold a monthly webinar series that explores emotion, history and the body across times and cultures, bringing together insights from the humanities and the social sciences. 'Emotions, History and the Body' therefore adopts a historical but interdisciplinary focus. Speakers will be invited in accordance with the Department of History’s commitment to principles of equality and diversity. 

The webinar will be held online via Zoom in 2021. Please note that seminar start times are variable to account for speakers presenting in different time zones.

Full programme:

1 February, 17:30 Barbara Rosenwein - 'Angry Bodies'
1 March, 10:00 Katie Barclay - 'From Corporeal Ethics to Carnal Instincts: Sexual Desires in the Long-Eighteenth Century'
18 October, 12:15 Rob Boddice - 'Experiencing Placebo: Toward a Biocultural History of the Brain'
15 November, 17:30 Noga Arikha - 'How we Feel: Cultural Variations on a Natural Theme'

Location: Zoom Webinar

Admission: Free to attend, but registration is required