• On 29/12/2018
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Embodied temporality

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Purdue University in the fall as part of their Hutton Lecture Series, which occurs every other year. My lecture was the Jim Berlin Memorial Lecture.

And I had a great time talking with the faculty and the students about all sorts of things. It was one of the most invigorating intellectual experiences I’ve had.

They were also gracious enough to let me take about a project in progress where I am trying to go from practice based research to theoretical research. It is no secret that I am unabashedly a practical and applied researcher. Much of my work has been about solving a problem. This is an extension of all the years I spent as a consultant and doing research to explicitly and directly solve a problem (or propose a solution for the organization to implement).

I opened the talk with saying it was speculative because it was in progress and not fully developed. While it was scary on one hand, it was also freeing on another. It reminded me that we need more spaces for in-progress work where true conversations and dialogues can occur. This point about conversations was one of the driving factors behind the RHM symposium (opens in new window). this idea of speculative research opens up a space at a time when projects still have flexibility to turn and shift and shape.

In my case, I was talking about a term I call, embodied temporality. I have long believed (like many French, particularly Cajun French, people do) that time is not linear. In health and medical situations, time is even more chaotic. So embodied temporality is a theoretical framework/concept to help researchers understand the chaotic notion of time. It destabilizes and moves time beyond being linear.

My work draws on Michel Series and his notions of time, which is a driving and central idea throughout all of his work. I use Serres from the French versions of his work. This is an important point since I have a different translation of some of Serres’ work, particularly his conversations with Bruno Latour.

In any case, I use Serres’ idea of chaos and expand Rickert, Hawhee, and DiCaglio’s versions of kairos and time. The great thing about giving a talk at Purdue was that Thomas Rickert was in the audience and graciously and generously talked to me for quite some time. I will forever remain grateful for that conversation.

Embodied temporality is a key part of the work I’ve been doing on patient experience design and what I called a context problem. I have worked to provide a more fuller description of micro-contexts in some of my current writing and eventually, embodied temporality and micro-contexts will be the key theoretical concepts in Geographic Histories of RHM. (Though that title is painfully tentative.)

It’s a stretch for me as I move more toward theoretical writing, but I am encouraged by the questions and comments from my talk at Purdue. With luck, I’ll be getting some of these ideas out in review soon to get more feedback.

In the meantime, here is the powerpoint from the talk.

Photo credit: Trinity Overmeyer, thank you, thank you for taking this photo.

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