Given that touch and touching is so central to everyday embodied existence, why has it been largely ignored by social scientists for so long? What is the place of touch in our mixed spaces of sociality, work, domesticity, recreation, creativity or care? What conceptual resources and academic languages can we reach towards when approaching tactile activities and somatic experiences through the body? How is this tactile landscape gendered? How is touch becoming revisited and revalidated in late capitalism through animal encounters, tourism, massage, beauty treatments, professional medicine, everyday spiritualities or the aseptic touch-free spaces of automated toilets? How is touch placed and valued within scholarly fieldwork and research itself, integral as it is to the production of embodied epistemologies? How is touch involved in such aesthetic experiences as shaping objects in sand, or encountering fleshly bodies within a painting?
The goal of this edited collection, Touching Space, Placing Touch is twofold:
1. To further advance theoretical and empirical understanding of touch in social science scholarship by focussing on the differential social and cultural meanings of touching and the places of touch.
2. To develop a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary explanations of touch in terms of individual and social life, personal experiences and tasks, and their related cultural contexts.
The twelve essays in this volume provide a rich combination of theoretical resources, methodological approaches and empirical investigation. Each chapter takes a distinct aspect of touch within a particular spatial context, exploring this through a mixture of sustained empirical work, critical theories of embodiment, philosophical and psychoanalytic approaches to gendered touch and touching, or the relationship between visual and non-visual culture, to articulate something of the variety and variability of touching experiences. The contributors are a mixture of established and emerging researchers within a growing interdisciplinary field of scholarship, yet the volume has a strong thematic identity and therefore represents the formative collection concerning the multiple senses of touch within social science scholarship at this time.
Table of Contents
Introduction: placing touch within social theory and empirical study, Mark Paterson, Martin Dodge and Sara MacKian;
1. Negotiating therapeutic touch: encountering massage through the 'mixed bodies' of Michel Serres, Jennifer Lea;
2. Touching the beach, Pau Obrador;
3. Touching space in hurt and healing: exploring experiences of illness and recovery through tactile art, Amanda Bingley;
4. Facing touch in the beauty salon: corporeal anxiety, Elizabeth R. Straughan;
5. Fieldwork: how to get in(to) touch. Towards a haptic regime of knowledge in geography, Anne Volvey;
6. Guiding visually impaired walking groups: intercorporeal experience and ethical sensibilities, Hannah Macpherson;
7. Touch, skin cultures and the space of medicine: the birth of biosubjective care, Bernard Andrieu, Anne-Flore Laloë and Alexandre Klein;
8. Touching environmentalisms: the place of touch in the fraught biogeographies of elephant captivity, Jamie Lorimer;
9. Towards touch-free spaces: sensors, software and the automatic production of shared public toilets, Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin;
10. In close embrace: the space between two dancers, Sarah G. Cant;
11. Intra-body touching and the over-life sized paintings of Jenny Savile, Rachel Colls;
12. Touched by spirit: sensing the material impacts of intangible encounters, Sara MacKian;
Mark Paterson is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, and Martin Dodge is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Manchester, UK.
'Together, the chapters in Touching Space, Placing Touch challenge the scopophilia that animates much of geographic inquiry, from key concepts to methodological frameworks and techniques. Here, touch takes hold of the geographic imagination, reworking our understanding not only of bodies and environments, but such fundamental questions as what does it means to locate, to connect and to become intimate with? Engagingly written, Touching Space, Placing Touch uses a series of empirically rich analyses to unfold these questions, providing in the process a "grounding" of affect, aesthetics, corporeality, embodiment, performance and materialism that manages to offer a radical intellectual agenda whilst remaining accessible.' Deborah Dixon, Aberystwyth University, UK