Embodying Ecology Through Experiential Art
Making tortillas, and much of the work in this subsistence farming community, is critical to daily life, reflecting an intimate connection between a healthy body and the natural environment it interacts with and learns from. Traditional activities, or those that people trace back to what “Maya people do,” are critical not simply because they are valued in the community or because they provide a healthy, local source of food. They are critical because practicing them actually changes individual bodies through phenomenological experience. Heightened sensory experience changes us, both mentally and physically. Experiencing traditional activities, through everyday ritual, can make us well.
“Embodied ecological heritage” was conceived in response to the lack of ways to adequately conceptualize the links between a healthy body (and mind) and traditional ecological knowledge and practice. It takes into account gaps in existing discussions and conceptualizations surrounding the health/TEK link, extending beyond ethnobotanical intersections toward a richer understanding of how bodies change through ecological interactions.
The “Community Members”
Featured in this video are members of the community of Santa Cruz in the Toledo district, Belize. Hoping to convey what inspired the development of the embodied ecological heritage framework, we asked them to describe their practices important to their lives and well-being. We hope that the connections they make will enhance the discussions provided by the academics, leading to a more holistic understanding of how embodied ecological heritage might be used in a wide variety of contexts.
Big thanks to:
Bascilio Teul, Vice-Alcalde
We gathered the pieces for this video installation from anthropologists in various stages of their careers working in applied and academic settings around the world. Hoping to share a wide range of insights, we gave them a simple request: to define the terms “embodied” and/or “ecological” and/or “heritage” as they related to their own work, and to each other. Asking them to self-record a conversational-style monologue, we hoped to convey the fluidity of the terms and concepts they represent, while capturing their personal connections and applications of our installation’s theme, “embodied ecological heritage.”
Thanks so much to:
Rebecca K. Zarger – University of South Florida
Chas Salmen – Univeristy of California – San Francisco – School of Medicine
Paige West – Tow Associate Professor – Barnard College and Columbia University
douglas carl reeser is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida, and is a contributing editor at Recycled Minds and Anthropology News. He is currently working on his dissertation based on research in southern Belize, examining the intersection of State-provided health care with a number of ethnic-based traditional medicines. He also loves food.
Kate Fayers-Kerr – University of Oxford
Kerry Hawk Lessard – Native American Lifelines
Amy McLennan is a DPhil student in Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Her attention is currently focused on the political, social and economic change that has coincided with obesity emergence in a small Pacific island nation. In her DPhil thesis she is specifically interested in the trope of ‘living for today’: what it means in daily practice, where it has come from, and how it is linked to the way in which we relate to food, money, material goods, and to each other. In her work she predominantly draws on biocultural and critical medical anthropological theory, although she also makes use of material from history, economics, epidemiology, sociology, public health and human geography.
Mabel Sabogal – University of South Florida
Hannah Graff – National Heart Forum (UK)
Elizabeth Murray – University of South Florida
We invite you to click below, as an artist and/or academic, to offer your own contribution to our ever-growing traveling and virtual exhibitions!
Reconsider Dissemination: “Embodied Ecological Heritage” by Victoria Costa and Kristina Baines is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.