Ecologies of experience: materiality, sociality, and the embodied experience of (street) performing
Recently a range of relational approaches have established themselves in many arenas of geographical thought. Insights have been drawn in from poststructural philosophy and social theory to decentre the human subject and consider agency in a more distributed way. Within such work, amongst references to networks, rhizomes, assemblages, and the like, the term ‘ecology’ has at times been employed to refer to such relationalty. However, the implications of its use and the specific value of the term in thinking about relationality have not yet been fully considered. Therefore, this paper articulates an ‘ecological approach’ to the study of the embodied practices. The significance of such an approach is expressed in terms of its ability to pay attention to the co-constitutive relatedness of practices and the social–cultural–material environments in which they take place. This is articulated in the paper in three main ways: (1) by drawing attention to the sheer complexity and singularity of relatedness; (2) by reflecting on connections with, and the status of, human and nonhuman entities in the playing out of practices; and (3) by considering the structuring of affective relations and the context in which practices take place. This is illustrated in the paper in relation to the practice of street performance and the intertwining both of the more concrete ‘material’ aspects of the street space (architecture, benches, people), and of its less concrete, but still materially significant, aspects (meteorological-atmospheres, felt-ambiences, not physically present regulative formations), with the performer in the playing out of this practice. Keywords: ecology, experience, relational geographies, materiality, affect, performance, practice.
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