• roz whiteley

The Transferal of Care Practices

When I was sending out meals, I sent Maria a chickpea and potato curry. My recipe included dried chickpea, tinned tomatoes, onions, potatoes, ginger and garlic. Maria returned to me her own recipe for a chickpea curry she frequently makes within her kitchen. This recipe includes tinned chickpeas, an onion, a whole load of spices, coconut milk, spinach and/or frozen peas. Although both meals are similar in their names, they are in actuality completely different (both with regards to the final dish and the process of making them). This difference was revealed through the transferal of knowledges through our written documents.

How does this sort of transferal occur? I’ve been finding it useful to think about the repertoire as Dianna Taylor discusses it. The repertoire ‘enacts embodied memory-performances’ (Taylor, 2003, p. 20). The repertoire is our own collection of skills and practices that are housed within our bodies. Taylor contrasts this to the archive, which she describes as a collection of documentation, and she lists physical documents such as letters and CDs, that are ‘supposedly resistant to change’ (2003, p. 19). Taylor writes further ‘what changes over time is the value, relevance, or meaning of the archive, how the items it contains get interpreted, even embodied’ (2003, p.19).

I’m not sure how useful it is to directly contrast the repertoire as purely bodily knowledge and the archive as purely documentation when sometimes the two may be so embedded and enmeshed in one another that they are inseparable. That is how they occur to me within this project. The embodied memory-performances of how we care within our kitchens are etched into the documentation that is shared with another and then embodied as they enact the writing within the documentation. This is what I mean by referring to the letters received within this practice as bodily documentation. They write the body and ask that your body responds in kind.

This is not exactly a neat and tidy transferal of knowledges. Joseph, who also received my recipe for a chickpea and potato curry, writes he got his timings ‘slightly skewed’. It takes me about 50 minutes to make my chickpea and potato curry. I do not think I’m a very efficient chef, but I know the rhythms and grooves of this particular recipe as I have made it often. Joseph describes himself as a ‘slow cooker’ and did not approach the meal with the same pace I had set. This is interesting to me as it reveals the transferal of bodily knowledges through documentation in this way is necessarily messy and incomplete.

How do we share our bodily practices of care and cooking through writing? What effect does it have upon us to enact other’s writings? Could the transferal be ‘cleaner’ and is that even desirable?

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and reflections upon these topics in the comments below.


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