What does it mean for a practice to be cultural-somatic?

Transparently, this article started off with a cascade of titles. “Cultural somatics is dead” “Who killed cultural somatics?” “A farewell to cultural somatics” You can probably sense my grief, disdain, and resolve. I think the way I have been writing over the last few years, under the anguished moniker of ‘Selfish Activist’, these would be…

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Undoing traumatic bonding: responding to claims of harm in the post-#metoo era

A note on scope: The purpose of this article is to simply introduce a few new ideas and get us to think more critically about how we respond to claims of harm in our communities overall. It isn’t necessarily to try to give all the answers. A short article like this can hardly cover all…

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‘Amae (甘え)’ and the sweet indulgence of social justice culture

I want to start this piece with an inconvenient thought. Over the last years, online social justice communities have been shouting down the idea of reverse sexism or racism – I’ve done it myself. The logic that is given is that bias towards men or white people isn’t in the context of a larger system…

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COVID19 Blues: My father, the immune system, and the philosophy of Thelonius Monk

I am not a doctor. But my father is. In fact, he is an immunologist. So what follows below is not medical advice but a story of reconciliation (with some possible medicinal effects). You see, my father and I have been more or less estranged for the last few years – and even before that…

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What comes next? The dawn of a new era of cultural somatic activism

I believe that we are right now at a threshold of a burgeoning movement towards cultural somatic activism. Before jumping into this subject though, I would like to take a bit of space to reflect on the passing era and what it has meant to us. Over the last decade, we have seen concepts such…

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When the personal isn’t that political: what we can learn from the Rubber Hand Illusion about hyper-sensitization in activist communities

Even as a therapist and consultant who specializes in working where trauma and social injustice meet, I have always had some suspicion about how the connection between relational dynamics and systemic oppression is talked about in activist spaces. My primary concern with this has been about how dominant social justice discourse tends to completely skip…

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Imagining ancestral justice

What happens to a people when they lose their ways? Well, one thing we do know is that they lose their medicines. They forget the names of plants and other beings in their world that can help them restore their balance. They forget the rituals that are able to activate the natural healing mechanisms of…

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Understanding ‘accountability abuse’

‘Accountability abuse’ is an abuse of power pattern that happens when we take on self-policing roles within a community without the appropriate checks and supports for ourselves. For me, accountability abuse is a more succinct way to define violent behaviors that tend to be categorized under ‘call-out culture’ or ‘cancel culture’, spanning from brutal accountability…

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Believing survivors isn’t the same as holding their trauma

CN: Discussion of racial and sexual violence I want you to know that, even as I write this, I’m a survivor of childhood abuse. Being received and believed by others has been a big part of healing all aspects of this. I firsthand understand how healing it can be for survivorship to be believed. I…

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The hidden cost of call-out culture is bigotry

How does your body respond to the following statement? Call-out culture enables bigotry. And healing it within our relationships is one of the first responsibilities we have as radical/progressive/liberal people. One of the problems with how we talk about call-out culture is that we tend to treat it as an internal dialogue within activist communities about…

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