From the Calendar to the Flesh: Movement, Space and Identity in a Mexican Body Culture
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There are numerous ways to theorise about elements of civilisations and societies known as ‘body’, ‘movement’, or ‘physical’ cultures. Inspired by the late Henning Eichberg’s notions of multiple and continually shifting body cultures, this article explores his constant comparative (trialectic) approach via the Mexican martial art, exercise, and human development philosophy—Xilam. Situating Xilam within its historical and political context and within a triad of Mesoamerican, native, and modern martial arts, combat sports, and other physical cultures, I map this complexity through Eichberg’s triadic model of achievement, fitness, and experience sports. I then focus my analysis on the aspects of movement in space as seen in my ethnographic fieldwork in one branch of the Xilam school. Using a bare studio as the setting and my body as principle instrument, I provide an impressionist portrait of what it is like to train in Xilam within a communal dance hall (space) and typical class session of two hours (time) and to form and express warrior identity from it. This article displays the techniques; gestures and bodily symbols that encapsulate the essence of the Xilam body culture, calling for a way to theorise from not just from and on the body but also across body cultures. Keywords: body cultures; comparative analysis; Eichberg; ethnography; games; martial arts; Mexico; physical culture; space; theory
Jennings, G. (2018). From the calendar to the flesh: Movement, space, and identity in a Mexican body culture. Societies, 8(3), 66
Article published in Societies on 13 August 2018 available open access at https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030066
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