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Educating with the hands: working on the body/self in Alexander Technique

By Jennifer Tarr

Abstract

Traditionally, forms of body work such as Alexander Technique have been excluded from mainstream biomedicine and healthcare, despite attempts by practitioners to have the work accepted within the medical community. Using data from a UK-based study of Alexander Technique which combined participant observation, interviews with 17 teachers and pupils, and analysis of historical texts, this article examines the relationship of the Alexander Technique to the field of healthcare, looking at its embodied practices, and contrasting these with the discourses in which it is framed. Applying Foucault's concept of 'techniques of the self', the article examines Alexander Technique's physical practices as a form of embodied knowledge, and goes on to look at its use of particular ideas about nature and evolution as guiding authorities, its emphasis on holism through its conception of the 'self', and how it has been positioned in relation to biomedical approaches. The article argues that while the embodied practice of Alexander Technique has much to offer to mainstream healthcare, the discourses and knowledge systems in which it is embedded make it unlikely to receive mainstream medical acceptance

Topics: BF Psychology, RZ Other systems of medicine
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01283.x
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:33679
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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