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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Breath, Body and World (2020)

This special breath-themed issue of the journal Body and Society, edited by and with contributions from Life of Breath team members, explores breath as a neglected topic within body studies

The special issue begins with an introduction from Life of Breath anthropologists Rebecca Oxley and Andrew Russell. They explore the significance of breath in many different cultural contexts – looping the globe and drawing on thousands of years of history with examples from indigenous and ancient cultures, Western and Eastern religions, ritual ceremonies and working practices.

In the essay ‘Making Breath Visible: Reflections on Relations between Bodies, Breath and World in the Critical Medical Humanities’ Life of Breath project lead, Jane Macnaughton, considers the consequences of the literal and metaphorical invisibility of breath and particularly breathlessness. Breath, she argues, is a feature, not just of the lived body, but also of the social and political body. She explores how lack of descriptive language and cultural representations of breathing and breathlessness have led to lived experience being disregarded or simply ignored, pondering whether better insights might transform care and improve outcomes for people with respiratory illness.

Other articles consider breath and the body with respect to air pollution, feminist political ecology, performance, and smoking rituals. The special edition closes with Tim Ingold reflecting on why the breath has been a neglected topic and why it remains so hard to study.

Read all the articles here: Special Issue: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Breath, Body and World, Body & Society, 26:2, June 2020, Guest Editors: Andrew Russell and Rebecca Oxley or follow the individual links below

All articles written by our research team are available open access. If you have any trouble accessing them please get in touch