Week Three
Being able to breathe able to breath clean air is vital to our survival and to our ability to perform physically at a high level, however this not the reality for many miners.  The working conditions underground are hot and claustrophobic with little air circulation and ventilation making it hard for a miner to breathe. Furthermore, the working conditions underground contribute to the highest rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. The prevalence of tuberculosis among miners is four to seven times higher than for the general population of South Africa, a country with the second-highest rate of tuberculosis in the world. It is against this background that I  explore ideas about tuberculosis infection and management among gold and platinum miners in two South African mineworker communities. Using ethnographic methods, I explore the key organising metaphors used by miners to understand TB in relation to infection and the impact it has on their lives, among them breathing in “dust”. Drawing on Robert Nixon’s (2011) model of “slow violence,” I argue that miners understand TB less in terms of a bacterial infection and more in terms of conditions of life underground. Their concept of “dust” demonstrates that there is an inter-relationship between tuberculosis and dusty working environments regardless of the mineral that is being extracted.
Week Three
The paper takes as a starting point the “shortness of breath” derived from the experience of political pressure, social injustice and economic austerity, exploring its connection with performance/live art and embodied politics. Air, the most necessary and common of all living resources, becomes a material signifier for the invisible political bonds that constitute a society. At the same time, in the realm of artistic representation the concept of Combat Breathing aims to engage with the perceptual and political imaginary of the beholders and to provide the potential of public engagement with breath, so as to encourage multiple perspectives on health, art and life, and so as to establish original methods of understanding the role that respiration plays in our  aesthetic, sensory, emotional and spiritual life.
Week Three
Eh!woza (ehwoza.com) is a collaborative public engagement (PE) programme involving biomedical researchers, a conceptual artist, anthropologists, musicians and young people living in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town. The programme operates at the intersection of PE, youth education, and advocacy, with the ultimate aim of decreasing stigma and encouraging positive health-seeking behaviour through different forms of engagement.
Week Three
We are interconnected to place through our breath. Our lungs expand to the world around us and contract to the distress that we feel. Panic, for instance, changes the way that we relate to breath. A rapid pounding heart is often accompanied by shortness of breath. Breath has also always played a role in healing professions and has come to notoriety with the mindfulness movement in psychology. Yet, in our relationship with breath, we sometimes forget that the world becomes embodied within us when we breathe in. Garret Barnwell is a clinical psychologist who has explored the psychological distress associated with environmental degradation. In this oral presentation, Barnwell will share reflections about community experiences of climate and health-related distress.
Week Three
This contribution will reflect on the way in which breath changes underwater. Diving compresses air in the body, providing an intimate awareness of otherwise hidden bodily topography as well as a wider awareness of cross-species continuities and planetary constraints. Literary work about the submarine provides insights into the interscalar nature of the experience, its historical resonance particularly in relation to African and Southern imaginaries, and its openings onto speculative underwater futures. Drawing on work about diving and drowning, I explore the relationship between ‘the weather underwater’ and the contemporary breathlessness. The contribution ends with some thoughts about what an underwater perspective has to offer to humanities research, via Astrida Neimanis, Christina Sharpe and Melody Jue.
Week Two
Dr Ela Manga is an integrated medical doctor, author, speaker, facilitator and a leading voice in the field of mind-body medicine and wellness in Southern Africa and abroad. Ela challenges her audience and is not afraid to bring a disruptive element to the conversation. She does this from a place of deep compassion and insight gained through interactions with her clients, continuous scientific research, and a deep knowledge of ancient wisdom. Ela is a sought-after speaker, both locally and internationally, and has a revolutionary way of facilitating groups for profound transformation. She has worked with organisations such as Unilever, Deloitte, Avis, Absa, GiBs, RMB, Nedbank, Bain, Primedia, Hogan Lovell, KLM Empowered, L’Oreal, Xavant, Glucode, CIO Anywhere, Sumbandila Scholarship Trust, and Caleo Capital. Ela is at the forefront of spreading the art and science of breathwork in Africa. She is the founder of Breathwork Africa, an organisation that offers training and support to breathwork practitioners across the African Continent and is committed to empowering individuals and communities with a simple tool for self-awareness and healing. She is an expert in the field of energy management and burnout. Her first book BREATHE: Strategising Energy in the Age of Burnout, is fast becoming the go to guide for managing energy and optimising physical and mental health.
Week Two
While self-medication is a component of self-care, self-medication with antibiotics (SMA) is one of the major forms of antibiotics misuse. Common cold, sore throat and flu-like symptoms are infectious syndromes causing viral respiratory tract infections (RTI) for which symptoms usually resolve within seven to ten days without antibiotic treatment. However, these symptoms may prompt patients to make use of their health rationales and therapeutic itineraries to immerse themselves in practices of SMA.  
Week Two
Serious infections of COVID-19 ultimately revolve around a debilitating pneumonia, giving rise to fast and laboured breathing that requires therapy with higher concentrations of oxygen than normal. Breathing normally, peacefully and automatically, which most of us take for granted, becomes the fervent goal of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, as well as those who care for them. Careful attention is given to the oxygen saturation (‘sats’) as measured by a monitor on the finger, and expressed as a percentage. Experiences of breathing, singing and ‘sats’ will be shared from the “Hospital of Hope” at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where I worked for two and a half months. With 850 beds and 1500 admissions, this “field” hospital was established in record time as a specialized COVID facility with piped oxygen at every bed. Despite the barriers of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and physical distancing, it was still possible to establish person-centred care through relatively simple methods. We noticed for example how personal communication with patients and their families through video conversations on cellphones, had a markedly positive effect on some patients’ ‘sats’. And the effect of singing in the wards by the nurses, despite masks and visors, raised everyone’s spirits. Despite the industrial nature of the environment, the technical challenges and the number of patients, a human connection was able to be established which contributed significantly to recovery and well-being.
Week Two
This paper focuses on the literary representation of asthma in Louise DeSalvo’s Breathless: An Asthma Journal (1997). Taking the cue from her personal and family history, DeSalvo describes asthma as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traces its ‘literary history’: from Marcel Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu to Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover, passing through Pat Barker’s The Regeneration Trilogy and Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh. In Breathless, and then in Writing as a Way of Healing (1999), DeSalvo goes further and even argues that one can write ‘through’ (and not only ‘despite’) illness in order to master a trauma, which she has done in her so-called ‘wounded body narratives’. By intertwining Trauma Studies and the Medical Humanities, this paper aims at analysing DeSalvo’s asthmatic renderings, while making a comparison with the discussions around breath and breathing in the time of Coronavirus.
Week Two
In Achmat Dangor’s Kafka’s Curse (1997), we find a particularly striking instance of breath transformed. In the build-up to the 1994 election, Oscar Khan, an architect, experiences a profound change in his breathing pattern. Oscar’s changing breath is a sign of his more radical metamorphosis: he is turning into a tree. But it also serves as a starting point for thinking about why breath plays such a prominent role in other Early Post-Apartheid works, like Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf (1994) or Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning (1998). In each case, breath’s overt reflection on intimate relations carries within it a political reconsideration of Apartheid’s effects on those it rendered marginal or unimportant. Importantly, these effects were not constrained by South Africa’s borders, but spilled over these boundaries: spatially, into neighboring Zimbabwe, and temporarily, across the political markers of 1980 and 1994. Insofar as the bodily impact of Apartheid could never really be reconciled by a mere date in time, so too do these breathy fictions remind us that breath, like material politics, transforms at a different rate, and with different effects, to political rhetoric.  

Register

GET ACCESS TO NOTIFICATIONS

Enter your name and e-mail address below to be notified about up-coming events:

* indicates required

Our Partners