Contemporary scholarship on emotion and feeling tends to fold bodily sensations such as feeling cold into emotions, like fear. In contrast, this essay slows down to consider the contours of cold itself, showing how Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception offers a method for thinking of the sensation of cold without reducing it to symbolic meaning or assuming it is autonomic. Although Merleau-Ponty's account of spatiality begins from the body, however, his work does not consider the sensation of temperature. Turning to Rashmika Pandya's phenomenological essay “The Borderlands of Culture and Identity,” the author argues that the sensation of cold is dense with the politics of race, class, and gender, demonstrating how the sensation is entangled with a shrinking sense of spatiality. This helps to explain why Frantz Fanon and Sandra Bartky describe the feeling of being objectified through the sensation of cold. Ultimately, the essay contributes to feminist cultural theory by calling on the field to revise its understandings of embodiment, subjectivity, and identity: we are dependent not simply on human others but also on a more-than-human world, a world captured in the thermal energy of particles.
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Stephanie Clare; Feeling Cold: Phenomenology, Spatiality, and the Politics of Sensation. differences 1 May 2013; 24 (1): 169–191. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2140618
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