Bodies in the Streets: The Somaesthetics of City Life


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Cities are defined by their complex network of busy streets and the multitudes of people that animate them through physical presence and bodily actions that often differ dramatically: elegant window-shoppers and homeless beggars, protesting crowds and patrolling police. As bodies shape city life, so the city’s spaces, structures, economies, politics, rhythms, and atmospheres reciprocally shape the urban soma. This collection of original essays explores the somaesthetic qualities and challenges of city life (in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas) from a variety of perspectives ranging from philosophy, urban theory, political theory, and gender studies to visual art, criminology, and the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics. Together these essays illustrate the aesthetic, cultural, and political roles and trials of bodies in the city streets.

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Richard Shusterman is the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities, Professor Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Body, Mind, and Culture at Florida Atlantic University. His major books include Pragmatist Aesthetics, Practicing Philosophy, Performing Live, Body Consciousness, Thinking through the Body, and The Adventures of the Man in Gold.
"Shusterman and his colleagues launched a significant volume of essays about a new dimension of somaesthetics: bodies in the street. It shows somaesthetics' usefulness and ability to interpret every dimension of human life." - Alexander Kremer, University of Szeged, in: Pragmatism Today Vol. 11 (1/2020)

"[D]oes somaesthetics provide a basis for critical assessment? Shusterman makes a strong case for the importance of the body and its role in all aspects of human experience. [...] The audience for this book may include aestheticians, but it offers potentially a much broader scope of interest, including the place of the body in urban studies, feminist theory, revolutionary politics, as well as literature and art." - Curtis L. Carter, Marquette University, in: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 78 (issue 2/2020)

"Si tratta, pertanto, di un volume importante e decisivo nello sviluppo della somaestetica proposta da Shusterman, una tappa che prelude a passi ulteriori ma che già fin da adesso rimodula ulteriormente e in modo efficace il cammino della somaestetica." - Leonardo Distaso, University of Naples, in: Aisthema, International Journal Vol. VI (2019)

“[A] significant contribution in imposing somaesthetics as one of the most open and pluralist fields in contemporary philosophy.” - Stefano Marino, University of Bologna, in: The Journal of Somaesthetics 6:2 (2020).

List of Illustrations

Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Bodies in the Streets and the Somaesthetics of City Life

Richard Shusterman

Part I: The Soma, the City, and the Weather

1. Bodies in the Streets: The Soma, the City, and the Art of Living

Richard Shusterman

2. The Weather-Worlds of Urban Bodies

Mădălina Diaconu

3. White on Black: Snow in the City, Skiing in Copenhagen

Henrik Reeh

Part II: Festival, Revolution, and Death

4. Body Politics: Revolt and City Celebration

Matthew Crippen

5. Bodies in the Streets of Eastern Europe: Rhetorical Space and the Somaesthetics of Revolution

Noemi Marin

6. From Dancing to Dying in the Streets: Somaesthetics of the Cuban Revolution in Memories of Underdevelopment and Juan of the Dead

Marilyn Miller

Part III: Performances of Resistance, Gender, and Crime

7. “Street” is Feminine in Italian: Feminine Bodies and Street Spaces

Ilaria Serra

8. Bodies in Alliance and New Sites of Resistance: Performing the Political in Neoliberal Public Space

Federica Castelli

9. East End Prostitution and the Fear of Contagion: On Bodily Consciousness of the Ripper Case

Chung-jen Chen

10. Towards a Somaesthetic Conception of Culture in Iran: Somaesthetic Performances as Cultural Praxis in Tehran

Alireza Fakhrkonandeh

Part IV: Bodies in the Streets of Literature and Art

11. “Terrae Incognitae”: The Somaesthetics of Thomas De Quincey’s Psychogeography

Evy Varsamopoulou

12. The Empty Spaces You Run Into: The City as Character and Background in William S. Burroughs’s Junky, Queer, and Naked Lunch

Robert Jones

13. Somaesthetics and the Sublime: Varanasi in Modern and Contemporary Indian Art

Pradeep Dhillon

Name Index

Subject Index

All scholars, students, critics, and artists interested in the study of city life and somatic approaches to philosophy, aesthetics, politics, gender studies, and the arts.
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