Life Phenomenology: Movement, Affect & Language

The 35th Annual International Human Science Research Conference
  • Workshop with Maxine Sheets-Johnstone / Photo by Carolyn Hebert
  • Participants during David Abram's keynote speech / Photo by Carolyn Hebert

Last month, 100 scholars from as far away as Norway, New Zealand and Japan gathered together at the University of Ottawa for the thirty-fifth annual International Human Science Research Conference (IHSRC).

Through keynote speakers, as well as paper, panel, workshop and performance presentations, conference participants explored the relationship between phenomenological methods of inquiry and bodily ways of being in the world. Although presenters came from a variety of disciplines such as psychology, the health professions and education, much of the discussion centred on self-world-other experiences of movement and dance.

Highlights from the five-day conference included a West African dance and drumming workshop with Kahmaria Pingue of the University of Ottawa, storytelling by renowned scholar Dr. David Abram and a keynote response presentation/performance, which connected movement with scholarly research practices by Dr. Celeste Snowber of Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, a philosopher of dance from the University of Oregon, gave her keynote presentation on the second day of the conference. She addressed how movement and our conception of self are intricately entwined from the earliest stages of development.

On day four, Dr. Maureen Connolly and her former graduate student, Elyse Lappano, presented a paper about their work at Brock University, which utilizes individualized movement programs with teens and young adults identified as being on the autism spectrum. This research demonstrated how phenomenological attunement might contribute to meaningful and relevant movement programming.

With her paper presentation earlier that day, conference chair Dr. Rebecca Lloyd of the University of Ottawa led attendees through an exploration of moments of feeling fully alive in performance onstage, as described to her in an interview with two-time world champion salsa dancer Anya Katsevman. Additionally, there were performances by the Ottawa Rhythm Initiative Tap Dance Ensemble, spoken word artist King Kimbit, contemporary dance company l’Atelier Shiatsu-Do, musician Stéphane Hachez and indigenous hoop dancer Theland Kicknosway.

In partnership with the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services and the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, the theme of this year’s conference was Life Phenomenology: Movement, Affect, & Language. IHSRC 2016 challenged participants to consider how scholarship may reawaken a phenomenological attitude and mobilize the methodological resources of the human sciences in service of the movements, affects and languages of life.

A special issue of the publication Phenomenology & Practice will feature articles that align with the IHSRC 2016 theme. A call for papers for this special issue is open until November 30, 2016. Learn more >> function2flow.ca/ihsrc-2016-call-for-article-submissions

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