July 29th & 30th

Embodied Culture: Discovering the Feeling of Self and Other in Cultural Context

While the idea of "culture" is an abstraction, the actual experience we have of culture is a very concrete one: it is, in the words of Humberto Maturana "the praxis of living of a coordinated group of people." Whatever kind of group it is – national, ethnic, professional, etc. – coordination depends on people having a shared experience of everyday life. Like all organisms, human beings experience life via their bodily senses, both literally and, through language, metaphorically. So, to understand the actual experience of culture, we need to tap into that embodiment of our individual and collective sensory experience.

Culture frames experience in a particular way so that we give meaning, attribute value, and feel emotion in resonance with other members of our group(s). As we become more conscious of constructing cultural identity, how aware are we that it is inscribed in our body? By increasing our awareness of cultural embodiment, this course will show how ethnocentrism can be counteracted more effectively and how multicultural identity can be achieved more deliberately. Overall, the course will activate this long journey of discovery that leads to incorporating intercultural consciousness into one's praxis of living.

Course objectives

  1. Learn the evolution of the embodiment concept
  2. Reflect on the construction of cultural identity and its embodiment
  3. Become aware of the daily experience of the body in cultural context
  4. Contact embodied resistance to alternative perception
  5. Understand how other people may embody culture differently
  6. Integrate embodied awareness into intercultural communication
  7. Learn strategies for intentionally shifting embodied cultural perception


The course is designed like a workshop in which theoretical contents are blended with sharing of experience, physical exercises  (integration of deep breathing and easily accessible physical movements) and individual reflections. Please wear comfortable clothing and cotton socks.

Target audience

The course is intended for participants who have attended a version of the IDRAcademy core course, "Applying the New Paradigm." (including the course  on "Intercultural Learning" offered last year at Dartmouth). Expected participants are faculty and administrators associated with international education and multicultural relations programs and others who wish to deepen their cultural self-awareness as part of developing intercultural consciousness for themselves and facilitating it with others. This is also a core course for those who might optionally be interested in pursuing an IDRI Diploma in Facilitating Intercultural Development.

Faculty Facilitator

Dr. Ida Castiglioni is a professor of the sociology of cultural processes in the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milano-Bicocca, where she is vice director and senior faculty in the graduate specialization of Intercultural Relations in the Programming and Management of Social Services and Public Policies program. She also is a designer and vice director of the Doctorate in Sustainable Human Development, a international, interdisciplinary Ph.D. program based on the principles of culture, consciousness, and co-evolution. She is the author of several books, including the well-known Italian text, La Comunicazione Interculturale: Competenze e Pratiche (Intercultural Communication: Competence and Practice).

In addition to her work at the university, Dr. Castiglioni is a therapist with an MA in Somatic Psychology and a Certificate in Clinical Counseling. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Institute of Somatic Psychology in Milano (IPSO).