The Explanatory Power of the Concept of Embodiment in Anthropology

  • Nina Kulenović Department and Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
embodiment, anthropology, explanation, explanatory power


As part of the author's cumulative research on the types of explanation, the structure of explanation and the explanatory capacity of key concepts in sociocultural anthropology, this paper looks at the concept of embodiment. The relevance of reappraising the explanatory power of this concept is manifold, above all on the interpretive, conceptual and paradigmatic level. Research suggests that the concept of embodiment – although very popular, commonly used in very influential scholarly monographs and academic papers, and even proposed as the cornerstone of a "new paradigm for anthropology" – has a very limited explanatory capacity. It seems that its use in no way contributes to anthropological argumentation on the level of explanation – neither cumulatively nor in terms of recontextualisation. Namely, it turns out that by deleting the word "embodiment" from the analyzed arguments nothing would be lost, and that the anthropological explanatory apparatus developed within the anthropology of the body, the anthropology of gender and the anthropology of kinship – whose use precedes contemporary popular uses of the concept of embodiment – does not have a smaller scope in terms of explanatory power.


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How to Cite
Kulenović, Nina. 2021. “The Explanatory Power of the Concept of Embodiment in Anthropology”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (2), 325–351.