Irina Sirotkina (Institute for the History of Science and Technology, of the Russian Academy of Sciences). Is the Body Back to Fashion? Observation in Isolation

During the pandemic, it has become absolutely clear that the individual body belongs to the statistical, medical and in generally bureaucratic discourse, and just to the person. Nevertheless, the pandemic has demonstrated that the body remains, perhaps, the person’s most important resource. Besides influencing our “mind”, “the mental”, the body often takes place of the mental becoming the most private, intimate part the individual. In contemporary world, the body is the mental. This process began some time ago, partly due to the so-called body-in-motion practices, including yoga, tai-chi, dance therapy, somatic movement, body-mind centering, mindfulness, etc. These and other practices lay an important claim for the unity of body and mind, the integrated character of the individual. During the pandemic, these practices were delivered to almost every home via the Internet — Skype and Zoom. “Zoom ergo sum”, occurred to yours truly after the first week of isolation. It appears that the popularity of body-in-motion practices were second only to cooking, also a bodily practice. In my paper, I will argue that the quarantine conditions reinforced the discourse of the body as a substitute of “psychological”, “mental”, and even “spiritual”. We may ask whether this will help to reintroduce “the body” to the discourse of the social sciences and humanities bringing it back to fashion.

Irina Sirotkina>>