An amuse-bouche

Something Allen Esterson pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago and which I had to share. From Brandt, K. J. (2005). Intelligent bodies: Women’s embodiment and subjectivity in the human-horse communication process.

The cowboy’s stranglehold on the label of expert in human-horse relationships, as well as mythic construction of the woman-horse bond, have effectively silenced women’s voices and rendered their experiences with horses non-authentic. This dissertation takes women’s knowledge of horses seriously as data and draws from three years (2001-2004) of ethnographic research of in-depth interviews and participant observation. I explore the human-horse communication process and argue that the two species co-create what I call an embodied language system to construct a world of shared meaning. I problematize the centrality of verbal spoken language and the mind in theories of subjectivity, and maintain that the privileged status of verbal language has left untheorized all non-verbal language using beings, human and non-human alike. I bring questions of embodiment–in particular women’s embodiment–to the center and examine how lived and felt corporeality shapes human subjectivity. I call for an understanding of embodiment not as deterministic but as a lived process that has a meaningful impact on how individuals understand themselves and others. Further, the women’s experiences of embodiment when working with horses propose a way to subvert oppressive dominant constructions about female bodies as inherently flawed and allow for a re-imagining of women’s bodily comportment.

Pesky privileged status of verbal language…

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