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Body, transparency and tactile dwelling: are we nearly here yet?

Westoby, Kay 2017. Body, transparency and tactile dwelling: are we nearly here yet? PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis proceeds from an attempt to articulate the body. At its core, however, is not the attempt to offer a definition of the body but instead to articulate a problem of touching on it. As such, it is motivated by a question at once banal and impossible: ‘Are we nearly here yet?’ Following Jean-Luc Nancy’s engagement with the account of space and being-there proposed by Martin Heidegger, it relates the materiality of the body to a broader role of touch and sense in constructing a world of engagements in which the body is never “here” but always “there”, always exposed in its touch upon the other. Following Nancy, this thesis begins by opening an ontological formulation of space and embodiment in which the materiality of the body allows for sense to pattern a world of bodies always separated from each other but situated in relation to each other. Sense, on Nancy’s account, is both bodily and conceptual; sense is the touch of vision, of the hands, of the body, and of understanding. Emphasising this multiple formulation of touch, this thesis offers an ontology of space as both material and transparent, in which this transparency figures the potential of the world to be continually re-spaced according to the touches and relationships enacted within it. After establishing this ontology of body and touch, the thesis enacts a series of attempts to approach the body, conducted in relation to encounters with bodies through photographs, painting and self-portraiture, as well as encounters with bodies that reveal aspects of their particular embodiment at moments of disruption or in their pathological relationships to the world. In each case, what is explored are figures of approach and withdrawal, turn and return, in which the body is nearly available to touch, but always elusive.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 January 2018
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2019 02:30

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