Yannis Hamilakis (Department of Archaeology at Southampton University, Southampton), Rana Dasgupta (author and essayist, New Delhi)
The notion of “body” moves beyond anthropocentric reductionism and instead seeks to articulate the finer distinction between “having” a body and “being” a body, between corporeal embodiment and carnal accident. The human body, as such, unfolds and reconfigures itself in its interactions with matter, taking on hybrid extensions, cyborg modifications, animal-becomings, and vibrant entanglements with the stuff and substances of the world. This session follows the affective impacts corporeal narratives have on the body, approaching the body as a sensorial regime challenged by social forces and shape-shifting technologies. Moving between notions of the primitive and the primordial, a supposed “state of nature” inherent to Homo sapiens, the thread that connects the seemingly stable past with an uncertain future is traced along its historical, literary, and archaeological materials. The sensory experience is, perhaps, what unites the archaeologist’s task of materially reconstructing a bygone world and the writer’s imaginative invocation of dramatis personae into a fictive, parallel universe. Examining the evolution of the body in relation to its historicity, this session aims to posit bodies as assemblages of humans, things, and ideas, as physical processes of entangled flows, determined by the divergent qualities of touch, emotion, and memory.