Ethnographies of Touch and Touching Ethnographies: Some Prospects for Touch in Anthropological Enquiries


  • Rosemary Jennifer Christine Blake



touch, embodiment, senses, fieldwork


The question of what constitutes data in anthropology is on-going and contested. In particular, challenges to dualistic assumptions about the mind and body as separate have opened up new spaces in which we can explore what it means to be engaged or embedded in the field and how we can employ our own subjectivity and experiences in the field as tools for research. In this paper, I extrapolate these assertions, looking at the role that touch, as a social practice both observed and participated in during fieldwork, played in shaping the way I conducted research as well as the subsequent theorisations that emerged from this research. I consider how meanings and messages can be relayed through the skin, and by the skin, in a dialogue of embodied knowledge between the researcher, the field and the research participants.   


Author Biography

Rosemary Jennifer Christine Blake

In 2009 the author graduated with a Master Degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh. She is now enrolled in the Social Anthropology PhD programme at the University of Cape Town and is conducting research in a South African township looking at the lives of children affected by chronic illnesses.