Breathing in Context

On Tue 8 and Wed 9 March the Life of Breath team, colleagues and guests gathered in the Joachim Room at Durham University to discuss a range of cross-cultural and historical perspectives on breath. The symposium addressed just what breath is, and what it means to live and breathe, by exploring the significance and meaning of breath as it is understood and enacted in different contexts. Truly interdisciplinary and international, the presenters and participants represented broad cross section of interests – from classical philosophy to modern-day cinema and from medical doctors to holistic breath practitioners.

Full notes will be available soon but you can get a taster of the symposium on Twitter #BiCDurham


  • Introduction and overview (Dr Andrew Russell & Dr Rebecca Oxley, Life of Breath/Anthropology, Durham University)
  • Hongi: Through breath we live, we share, we know (Dr Marewa Glover, Public Health, Massey University, New Zealand)
  • Breath in Philo, the Stoics and the New Testament (Dr Phil Horky, Classics, Durham University)
  • Tibetan ‘wind’ and ‘wind’ illnesses: towards a multicultural approach to health and illness (Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Life of Breath/History of Medicine, Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Breathing song and smoke: ritual intentionality and the making of an inter-subjective real (Dr Elizabeth Rahman, Social Anthropology, University of Oxford)
  • A post-phenomenological exploration of the experience of living-with and breathing through oxygen machines in Uruguay (Dr Megan Wainwright, Medical Anthropology, University of Cape Town)
  • The rising of the lights (Dr Oriana Walker, Life of Breath/History of Medicine, University of Bristol)
  • The compressed-air bath and breathing technologies in the nineteenth century (Dr Jennifer Wallis, History of Medicine, University of Oxford)
  • Breathing in speculative fiction (Dr Arthur Rose, Life of Breath/English Studies, Durham University)

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