Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty

Erin Manning
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Politics of Touch
    Book Description:

    In this groundbreaking work, Erin Manning reconsiders how politics attempt to paralyze the body through the idea of the national body politic. Manning develops a new way to conceive the role of the senses, and of touch in particular. Exploring concepts of violence, gender, sexuality, security, democracy, and identity, she traces the ways in which touch informs the body._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9860-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Atypical Expressions and Political Inventions
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    Does a mother’s touch alter her child’s brain chemistry? According to Michael Meany, McGill University professor of medicine, “various stressrelated illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, immune dysfunctions, drug abuse, obesity and heart disease, could hinge on early life experience” (Montreal Gazette,2 October 2004). Early life experience, as Meany defines it, is intrinsically linked to touch. His research indicates, for instance, that baby rats with high-licking mothers have lower levels of stress hormones. This suggests that healthy children are directly proportional to touching mothers. Blood relations are not key: adoptive mothers can perform the same tasks with similar effects.


  5. 1. Negotiating Influence: Touch and Tango
    (pp. 1-18)

    As night falls, we meet in bars always difficult to locate. We change our shoes, we glance around the room to find a human connection, and we dance. These evenings that are often drawn out into the early morning are about an exchange of movement and touch, about a transnational negotiation of desire, of gender roles and communication. In New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Montreal, Honolulu, Brussels, Nijmegen, tango asserts its language of desire, its politics of touch.

    Tango, a signifier of darkness and illegitimacy, of desire and counterculture, is more than a dance. As Horacio Ferrer writes, “before being...

  6. 2. Happy Together: Moving toward Multiplicity
    (pp. 19-48)

    Wong Kar Wai’sHappy Togetherbegins with a silent red screen. Passports are stamped with an entry into a different space, not Hong Kong but Buenos Aires. We are introduced to the refrain of the film: “Let’s start over.” This is May 1995, and two men, Lai-Yu Fai and Po-Wing, are making their way toward a place of improvisation—the world of tango—to challenge the possibilities of reinvention. Shifting from color to black and white, this first scene of the film is narrated by Lai-Yu Fai’s voice-over: “Ho Po-Wing always says, ‘Let’s start over,’ and it gets to me...

  7. 3. Erring toward Experience: Violence and Touch
    (pp. 49-83)

    Might we conceive of touch as the original sin? In Genesis 3: 3 (all citations from King James Version), God says to Adam and Eve: “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden . . . Ye shall not eat neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” To eat the apple, to be seduced by the snake, these are the obvious sins, the sins that condemn humanity forevermore to exist in a fallen state. But what of touch? Why is touch—the moment of decision—forgotten, cast aside, ignored? Is it not...

  8. 4. Engenderings: Gender, Politics, Individuation
    (pp. 84-109)

    Our skin is the most sensitive and oldest of our organs. It is our most efficient of protectors. The skin arises from the outermost of three embryonic cell layers, the ectoderm, which gives rise to the hair, teeth, and the sense organs of smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Touch is the earliest sense to develop in the human embryo. It gives us our experience of depth and thickness and shape. Skin develops sensitivities that depend largely on the kind of environmental stimulation it receives. The skin is a central organ system of the body. Without the functions performed by...

  9. 5. Making Sense of the Incommensurable: Experiencing Democracy
    (pp. 110-133)

    Brian Massumi writes: “The world does not exist outside of its expressions” (2002b, xiii).¹ Expressions are not simply representations, descriptions, content-driven empirical correspondences. Expressions cannot be reduced to external forces reacting upon a body. Expressions are in and of the body, sensual and sensing:

    The force of expression . . . strikes the body first, directly and unmediately. It passes transformatively through the flesh before being instantiated in subject-positions subsumed by a system of power. Its immediate effect is a differing. The body, fresh in the throes of expression, incarnates not an already-formed system but a modification—a change. Expression...

  10. 6. Sensing beyond Security: What a Body Can Do
    (pp. 134-162)

    A politics of touch is a politics not of the particularity of touch as touch, but of touch as the incorporeal experience of contact. How tactful is this politics? How is tact secured, politically, within movement that reaches toward? What happens to a politics of touch when we associate touch with tact?

    Whereas so far a politics of touch has been conceived as a movement that expands the virtual toward potential, it would seem—if we associate touch with contact—that touch is also implicated in a movement that is based on an interdiction not to touch. Tact embodies this...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 163-176)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-184)
  13. Index
    (pp. 185-196)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)