Women's collective constructions of embodied practices through memory work: Cartesian dualism in memories of sweating and pain
Gillies, V., Harden, A., Johnson, K., Reavey, P., Strange, V. and Willig, C. (2004) Women's collective constructions of embodied practices through memory work: Cartesian dualism in memories of sweating and pain British journal of social psychology, 43 (1). pp. 99-112. ISSN 0144-6665
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/014466604322916006
The research presented in this paper uses memory work as a method to explore six women's collective constructions of two embodied practices, sweating and pain. The paper identifies limitations in the ways in which social constructionist research has theorized the relationship between discourse and materiality, and it proposes an approach to the study of embodiment which enjoins, rather than bridges, the discursive and the non-discursive. The paper presents an analysis of 25 memories of sweating and pain which suggests that Cartesian dualism is central to the women's accounts of their experiences. However, such dualism does not operate as a stable organizing principle. Rather, it offers two strategies for the performance of a split between mind and body. The paper traces the ways in which dualism can be both functional and restrictive, and explores the tensions between these two forms. The paper concludes by identifiying opportunities and limitations associated with memory work as a method for studying embodiment.
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