The Somatics Toolkit emerges from an academic context with deeply ingrained assumptions regarding how research is done in Western culture. This ‘view’ is very strongly formed by Cartesian emphasis on cognition, which makes the mind the most common entry point in western academic education, often to the detriment of the body. As a consequence, there are few to no teaching materials that include soma within the (ethnographic) research cycle.
We argue that (academic) understanding can be accessed through the body, heart as well as mind. These are inseparable routes into understanding. Being a Somatics Toolkit, the Guided Practice naturally takes the body as entry point, but acknowledges that the other layers of heart and mind are inseparably interlinked with our physicality. This allows us to include resources such as spatial awareness, bodily intelligence and imagination, informing our research in additional ways, and in that sense provide a way to include multi-levelled literacy of the researcher. We emphasise that the body-in-movement merits equal respect and training as our mental faculties.
The Core Practices have been developed by Eline Kieft, in collaboration with Ben Spatz, and Doerte Weig. All three of us are experienced researchers as well as movers. It draws on a variety of dance, movement, somatic and performance practices that we have worked with. In addition, Eline and Doerte, as anthropologists, are intimately familiar with the ethnographic research cycle as well.
The Extended Practice presents recordings outside of (but related to) the ethnographic research cycle, to work with topics such as gender, camera, blood, dance, environment, fatigue, ethics, nerves, and breath. These are developed by guest contributors, as well as by the project team.
We hope that the Practices offer much food-for-movement, as a resource for individual Exploration and potentially also for use in the seminar room. We look forward to your comments, and also to any additions you might propose to the Extended Toolkit!