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Embodiment, Enaction, and CultureInvestigating the Constitution of the Shared World$
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Christoph Durt, Thomas Fuchs, and Christian Tewes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035552

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035552.001.0001

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Collective Body Memories

Collective Body Memories

(p.333) 17 Collective Body Memories
Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture

Thomas Fuchs

The MIT Press

The concept of body memory comprises all forms of implicit memory that are mediated by the body and actualized without explicit intention in our everyday conduct—for example, habitual patterns of movement and perception, instrumental skills or behavioral and cultural habits. The life-long plasticity of body memory enables us to adapt to the natural and social environment, in particular to become entrenched and feel at home in the social and cultural environment. The chapter introduces in particular the concept of collective body memories that develop in social groups through recurrent shared experiences and lead to spatial and temporal patterns of joint group behavior. Examples of such memories are the formation of a well-attuned football team and its fluent interplay, the habitual ways of interacting that characterize a family, or the enactment of social ceremonies and rituals. In such situations the intercorporeal memories of the individuals unite to form overarching procedural fields. Moreover, the interactive processes develop an autonomous or emergent dynamic involving the individuals in behavior they would not show outside of the formation. Once the group joins again in a similar configuration and situation, the resulting collective body memory is re-actualized. These phenomena are analyzed mainly from a phenomenological, but also from a dynamical systems perspective.

Keywords:   Body memory, cultural memory, family memory, intercorporeality, habitus, ritual, play

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