The Power of Shared Embodiment. Renegotiating Non/belonging and In/exclusion in an Ephemeral Community of Care
Poser, Anita von; Willamowski, Edda – 2020
In this article, we explore the power of shared embodiment for the constitution of an affective community. More specifically, we examine how people afflicted by long-term, arduous experiences of war, migration, and discrimination sensually articulate and, at least temporarily, renegotiate feelings of non/belonging, care, and in/exclusion. Methodologically, we draw on emplaced ethnography and systematic phenomenological go-alongs with a group of elderly migrants, born and raised in different parts of Vietnam, who had arrived in Germany within different legal-political frameworks and who, during the time of our psychological-anthropological research, frequented the same psychotherapeutic clinic. We apply the notion of "affective communities" (Zink in Affective Societies: Key Concepts. Routledge, New York, 2019) to grasp how the group experienced a sensual place of mutual belonging outside the clinic when moving through different public spaces in Berlin as part of their therapy. Particular attention is paid to the participants' embodied and emplaced memories that were reactivated during these excursions. Shared sensations and spatiality, we argue, made them feel they belonged to an ephemeral community of care that was otherwise hardly imaginable due to their distinct individual biographies, contrasting political attitudes, and ties to different social collectives. In analyzing this affective community, we highlight how significant spatio-sensorial modes of temporal solidification can be in eliciting embodied knowledge that positively contributes to therapeutic processes.