Our backgrounds are in American academia. We are both academics: a professor and a PhD student. So part of our goal in creating this podcast is to create a digital vehicle to help bring interesting topics – ones that normally get trapped within the web of journal and book publishing and conference presenting that is the academic world – to more public, digital audiences. Both of us have grown weary of the struggle with the traditional mediums through which academic work is presented. So many academics throughout the world do important and interesting research: what we’re trying to do with Somatic is hopefully playing a tiny role in bringing those stories and research to audiences and listeners beyond the academic journal, book, and conference. We’re simply trying to get creative with exploring the ‘somatic’ world around us all with the help of digital and audio technologies.
More generally, we created the podcaast because we believe that new and engaging examinations of all of our everyday embodied experiences are essential to helping make a better world. We’re seeing the world we live grow increasingly globalized, commodified, and interconnected through communications technologies, all within a political moment in which we are daily reminded of impending social, economic, and environmental crises threatening the health of human societies. Not all of it is a story of decline, for with all those crisis and issues we also see the continuing flowering of human consciousness through movements calling for environmentalism, racial equality, women’s and LGBT rights, and justice for indigenous peoples. By starting a small podcast, we’re hoping that the episodes can help people to increasingly critically look at how we all experience our daily lives, using our embodied selves as the lens. In the process, hopefully each of us might hear some interesting insight which can help bolster the ideas of movements for social justice, and foster more inclusive, open discussions about our embodied experiences, our world, and our relations with each other.
Our goal is hopefully that each episode can bring the audience into the process of literally shaping the course and direction of the podcast, to allow all of our everyday physical, embodied experiences to impact how we can then speak to their various contexts and meanings. The contributors will have as much flexibility as they want in the direction of the episode and will dictate the narrative. We simply want to provide the digital platform. We’re hoping, too, that Somatic can be a kind of audio medium through which the audience becomes just as active as us in shaping each episode’s stories and expressions, helping us to develop a show that is open, engaging, and entertaining. More importantly, we are hoping to become increasingly experimental with the podcast format with each posted episode. We are interested in anyone’s stories and works of creative expression that are critical and meaningful, and we are constantly working to develop an podcast vehicle that allows for all kinds of new, creative, experimental, and inclusive stories.
With that said, as we are based in distinctly academic backgrounds, there are particular ideas that inform our philosophy behind Somatic, ideas we hope to get across to our audience through the podcast:
- Our everyday embodied experiences need to be understood as historically- and culturally-conditioned experiences
By this, we are not saying Somatic is simply going to be a podcast telling interesting stories regarding historical and cultural topics. It is not our aim to simply broadcast stories of famous American Civil War battles, for example. Rather, we mean that, in all of our everyday interactions we experience through our active bodies, we can gather meaning from those experiences if we see them as historically- and culturally-contingent, as experiences that are unique in relation to contexts and impacted by the various relations and ideologies embedded within those very contexts. All of us are shaped by the social and cultural forms of our times: we are in important ways shaped by the contexts within which people struggle with issues of race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, class, etc. Through this podcast project, we hope to disseminate and make available online stories that relate our embodied experiences with critical issues related to ideology, power, and history. If we can look at our embodied experiences in this way, we can begin to think about them as always involving politicized relationships. Thus…
- One’s embodied experience can (indeed should!) also be seen as a politicized experience
As we consider embodied experiences as points of connection between an extended number of issues stretching geographically and temporally, we also engage with the idea that the embodied is political. This is to suggest that the complexity of the bodily experiences of movement (experiences we all have) go well beyond that felt moment, that these experiences are mobilized in ways that have significant political impact.
From sporting events, to recreational policy, all the way down to how we understand the embodied practices to which we participate at the micro-political level, all are drawn into broader political processes and movements. At times the macro-political wrangling around mega events may highlight this most clearly, but indeed all aspects of what we discuss in Somatic should be seen this way.
These first two points highlight the fact that the embodied is also an intense point around which relationships of power are enacted. Connecting complex numbers of people, spaces, systems, policies, and institutions is a powerful act, making it significant the ways in which people mobilize these articulations for particular ends. As such:
- In all of our embodied experiences, there are relationships of power that deserve to be discussed
In many ways it can be a cliché, but this podcast is just one of the ways in which we are attempting to highlight the power that is connected to embodied experiences in our society, to underline the imbalances and inequalities that exist. Through Somatic we certainly look for our episodes to be entertaining and informative, but we also want to encourage people to question the embodied moments they experience or observe firsthand. Hopefully, Somatic furthers such questioning, while also providing them some useful analytical frameworks through which to do so.
- Transformations in technology (digital mediums like podcasts!) can be sites for the cultivation and expression of alternative perspectives on contemporary society
We’re not Luddites here; the technological revolutions in terms of new mediums for communication and media is a historically-complex process that opens up opportunities along with new social issues to examine and critique. Specifically, it has become incredibly easy, and not that expensive, to acquire the audio tools necessary to record and create digital products like podcasts. Online distribution platforms like SoundCloud make it easier than ever to post digital media and make them available to anyone with internet access. The ease in creation and accessibility provides us all with a medium to potential broadcast and transmit stories and potentially reach new audiences. With Somatic, we’re going to try to harness the power of podcasts in order to help bring new and interesting stories about our embodied experiences to the online world and beyond.
This general philosophy is the core of what we’re trying to do, and the ideas shape our approach throughout the process in creating an episode. It is in this podcast that we are excited to put this philosophy into action!