[CALL FOR PROPOSALS – English Version


roots§routes is a magazine with an editorial vision announced by its editorial board, which guarantees the quality and coherence of its contents. We consider it crucial to maintain an ongoing receptivity towards any submission of quality, provided it corresponds with the final vision shared among the editors. We therefore not only solicit work from artists and scholars, but also encourage submissions from contributors working in contexts that we do not know directly.

roots§routes announces a Call For Proposals, asking artists and scholars to submit proposals, beginning with the magazine’s theme for the upcoming quarter. Submissions should be sent in the form of an abstract, with a maximum of 350 words, to the following email address: redazione@roots-routes.org, with the subject heading “Article Submission.” Abstracts written in English, Italian, French, Portugues or Spanish are acceptable. In case of interest on the part of the editorial board, an email requesting the full paper will be sent to the author of the abstract. The paper is to be written in the language of the author’s choosing.

The editorial board, upon receiving the full paper, reserves the right to request partial edits, or to reject the piece, in the case that it does not align with the earlier proposal. For those interested in submitting materials, the themes for the upcoming issue of the magazine will be announced on this section of the website.

Year XIV | n° 46 | September - december 2024
what a body knows

edited by Giulia Grechi

“it is necessary to survive violence in order to tell our history.
it is necessary to tell our story to survive violence.”
Paul B. Preciado, Orlando. Ma biographie politique, 2023

“what do we need to remember that will push back against the forgetting encouraged by consumer culture and linear time? What can we remember that will surround us in oceans of history and potential? And how?”
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned. Black Femminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, 2021

the skin of History is frozen.
a skin of marble, of bronze. an empty shell, a skin without a body, or an abstract, translucent, immobile body, a body that is always a corpse, fallen and yet erect, heroic. a body that is all to the contrary, an inhuman body.
we could think of the body of History as an army of statuesque bodies, often rightly besieged and smeared by the droppings, assaults or signs of other bodies, living or surviving bodies [1]. the dying bodies of the statues are the ideal bodies of Power: immobile bodies that close, sanction, celebrate, suture, clarify, dissolve every possible doubt. bodies that do not admit of replication. bodies that use capital letters.
History uses bodies, to write itself. it is the eye, first and foremost, that conquers: “the eye at the service of a ‘discovery of the world'” (De Certeau 2005: 59). seeing-writing-possessing. “to write is to make history, to correct it, to educate it: a ‘bourgeois’ economy of power through writing” (15). a disembodied Writing, which is born of the eye and yet represents itself as devoid of “point of view”, which while removing its own body, imprisons and silences the body of the other.
History and Power have always objectified bodies, moulded them, constructed them as normal or deviant, exposed, exploited, intoxicated, trained, racialised, eroticised, habituated them [2] (Connerton 1999). History and Power seem to know everything about the body: “the body all imprinted with history, and history that devastates the body” (Foucault 2019: 37).
the “infamous” bodies of ordinary people who would have been destined to pass without a trace, were it not that at some point in their lives they clashed with a Power determined to annihilate them (Foucault 2009): of these bodies we do not have the possibility of hearing the voice, or the cry because the only voice recorded is that of Power that defines them with its sharp gaze; the only trace that remains of those bodies cannot restore their subjectivity, but only their subjugation (Hartman 2008).

the skin of History is burning.
because the story of History is actually made up of wounds, revelations, traumas, shocks, sudden light and darkness, fractures, discontinuities and recurrences. the story of History is all a disjointed pursuit of struggling bodies. the story of History is all a body-to-body. and each of these bodies is a mnemonic system that assimilates, reworks, reproduces, subverts (Connerton 1999).
I would like the voice of these bodies to be here, their queerness, their knowledge.
I would like the living bodies to speak here, bodies that are alive, warm, indeed on fire, those bodies on which History has etched (etches) its own mark of violence, and which despite this (or precisely because of this) have given us the luminous glimpse of a question. bodies that build alliances, occupy space. bodies-subjects. bodies on which History has fallen, embedding itself in an eye, in the diaphragm, in the back, in a foot, causing pain. but also the “naturally subversive” bodies, highly intelligent, full of mind (Scheper-Hughes 2000). the bodies that are other, “possessed”, transgressive, that take possession of language, alter it and make it flesh (De Certeau 2005). bodies that sometimes express themselves through symptoms, which are nonetheless extreme semantics of resistance, aspirations for freedom [3]. bodies that, although pathologised, will never be obedient (Preciado 2023). bodies that in the dramatic encounter with Power and Norm do not conform. rather, they de-form. monstrous bodies (Preciado 2021). marginalised bodies that make the margin the site of rebellious speech and that occupy space from the margin, producing knowledge and counter-narratives (hooks, 2020). fluid bodies, non-conforming bodies, that generate extra-ordinary subjectivities. bodies that just do not fit into binary logics (Preciado 2023). delirious [4] bodies. uncomfortable bodies. bodies that claim their right to opacity (Glissant 2007). inhabited bodies. political bodies. unicorn bodies [5]. humid bodies [6]. boundless bodies. 

bodies that re(ex)sist.
how does this (my) body speak? what voice does it have? what language does it use? how does it express itself? what about this body speaks to me? the obstructed windpipe that makes me choke in spaces intoxicated by coloniality (Ndikung, 2018); hair as a tool for “racial empowerment” and “political consciousness among African people and in the Black diaspora” (Kilomba 2021: 120) or “the unspeakable pain of racism” that one feels “on one’s fingers” [7]; the nose that helps one remember “the smell of colonialism” (Duncan 2016); the throats that assault the sky; the stomach knotted by what the gaze of others projects onto my body [8]; the fugitive, de-linquent [9] voice. the breath beyond the chest that rises and falls, as a ‘practice of presence’ (Gumbs 2023), as a continuous exchange of substances with human beings, animals, plants; the breath of those who have drowned and of those who are ”un-drowned”, because they have continued to breathe even in unbreathable circumstances [10]writing with the feet, reading by ear [11]. passing from mouth to mouth the word that frees [12]not only what is all around my body, but what my body knows about all that is around it and what it does with it [13]. because it is never possible to look or know ‘from the outside’ [14]: all our knowing, feeling, remembering is always embodied.

reversing the questions:
what does your body know about Power?
what does your body know of History?
what has your body unlearned, and how?
what does your body remember, and how?

I imagine the contributions in this issue of roots§routes as a kind of poetic gesture, a kind of pharmakon. as a profound and subversive act of care exercised by the small community that will be formed in this transitory (and I hope carnal, despite everything) space, in an alliance between bodies that speak and bodies that feel.

mode of administration
remember with the nose: during a workshop with pupils and teachers of fifth grade and sixth grade in a social centre in Arezzo, in 1979, Gianni Rodari asks them to try to tell, putting words together. to put words together, he asks them to try to remember: “memory must be given the right trigger… So I say: let us remember with our nose. We remember with our ears, with a foot…. If you want, I’ll start. How do you want me to remember? – With a finger! –”. and so Rodari recounts and concludes: “all these words that I took out (…) were inside my finger: because we remember with our body all the sensations we have had… Here, let’s see: who among you knows how to remember something with his nose?” (Rodari 2016: 5-6).
years ago I tried to replicate this ‘exercise’ in a workshop with adults, in Cesena, during BIM – Borgo Indago Microfestival of child culture, curated by Valentina Pagliarani in 2016, on the theme ‘I am my home’, a conference-workshop between education and identity.
I asked them to try to recount a memory of/from the body, trying to re-inhabit it and shifting the point of view: imagining what the knee, the diaphragm or the right hand would have recounted, i.e. giving one’s own body (or a part of the body) the chance to express itself in the first person, to become a subject. each person chose whether or not to make explicit which part of the body was to be told, whether or not to give their name and surname, or not. it was a first experiment, which has remained stuck in my imagination for a long time. but it is only one of many possible ways of remembering/telling with the body…

active principles
auscultation of the body.
embodied writing, of/from the body.
voice/sound as matter and body memory.
the body of images: contact images (Didi-Huberman).
archival surgery: the body and the archive, the body as (counter)archive.

possible desired effects
((un)learning something through the bodies of others, people, plants, marine mammals (Gumbs 2023).
but also the aspiration to construct, to name, to make visible alliances between bodies, and their strength, to make worlds in which other worlds are understood and welcomed, to find “a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. This is modernity’s insurgent feel, its inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. This is the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. This is the feel we might call hapticality. Hapticality, the touch of the undercommons (…), the feel that what is to come is here. Hapticality, the capacity to feel through others, for others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you (…). I’m trying to elaborate a different mode of living together with others, of being with othersm not just with other people but with other things and other kinds of senses” (Harney, Moten 2021: 98, 119).

As Far As My Fingertips Take me, One to One performance by Tania El Khoury, 2016. Performance: Basel Zaraa. Credits Tania El Khouri.


* The title of the issue resonates with that of the workshops Memorie da sottopelle, which Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau and Marie Moïse have been proposing together with the publishing house Capovolte for some time now.

[1] As was the case with the statuary bodies of Columbus in different parts of the world, of Colston in Bristol, of Rhodes in Cape Town, of Montanelli in Milan, etc. But I am also referring to the ”undrowned” bodies mentioned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in her Undrowned (2023).
[2] Connerton writes that norms are ‘forgotten’ as such only when they have been firmly imprinted as habits in people’s minds and daily lives, becoming to all intents and purposes ‘normality’, much more difficult to question: “habit is knowing and remembering through the hands and body; and as habit develops, it is our body that ‘gets it’. [Thus] every social group will entrust to bodily automatisms values and categories that it aspires to preserve. They will know how well the past can be held in mind by habitual memory, reposed in the body’ (Connerton 1999: 110, 117).
[3] For example, see the analysis of the role of medicalisation in medical anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ study on the nervos attacks of sugarcane cutters in Northeast Brazil (Scheper-Hughes, 2000): a group of workers who periodically suffered a kind of sudden paralysis of the lower limbs, which did not allow them to work. Usually the symptom was medicalised and regressed, but it would recur. As emerged from the analysis of a team of scientists from different disciplines (medical, anthropological, psychological, social), the real cause of the symptom was linked to the working conditions experienced by the group of cane cutters, of quasi-slavery, with no labour unions and no possibility of asserting their rights. Medicalising the symptom was useless, because it was a sign of resistance and rebellion to a situation of inhuman subalternity: the only cure was to remove the causes of their subalternity. But see also the case of the so-called ‘resignation syndrome’ in the case of asylum seekers in Sweden (Grechi 2021).
[4] from Latin, to go off the marked path (lyre, furrow), to overflow, to stray. often associated in the common use of the expression with rambling, with going off the rails understood as going beyond reason.
[5] “I, Chiara Bersani, 98 cm tall, proclaim myself flesh, muscle and bone of the Unicorn. Not knowing his heart I will try to give him my breath, my eyes.” LINK.
[6] “The flying lesbians are back. A poetic manifesto, the idea of a transcorporeal, tactile, sensitive ‘meus’. How to say ‘we’? Imagine ‘us’ but in a time/space of the future. The water rises, and fragments of the archive arrive diffracted from trans/feminist posters of the past, in waves. The archive is mobile and unstable, haunted by spectres, like our memory. The lesbian sewer is our revolutionary infrastructure. The water teems with toxic substances and vibrant micro-organisms. No boundaries between our bodies. ‘Being wet is our job, / and we know how to do it very well'”. Ilenia Caleo and Martina Ruggeri, Lesbos, performance, 2024, LINK.
[7] Portuguese artist Grada Kilomba mentions the experience of a young woman, Kathleen, who recalled feeling the pain of racist aggression (being called the ‘n word’) ‘in her fingers’, like a physical pain. In this regard, Kilomba writes: ‘the experience of racism, in its being so horrific, cannot be grasped by cognitive means that assign meaning to it. On the contrary “it remains unprocessed – a ‘knowledge’ not in the common sense of the term, but felt in the body” (…). The agony of racism is thus expressed through bodily sensations, pushed outward and written on the body. The language of trauma is in this sense physical and visual, in its articulation of the incomprehensible effect of pain’ (Kilomba 2021: 158).
[8] “I have been in Rome, Italy, for the last six months to research and write about Fascist Italy’s 1935 invasion and war with Ethiopia. My days are a constant struggle to shift my mind and heart into the place where my body exists: this day of this month in 2011. This is where you are, not there. (…) A shop clerk smiles in recognition: You are Ethiopian. Yes. I know that face; my father was a soldier. My grandfather was there. He was stationed in Gondar. He lived in Asmara. Do you know this village near Adua? He loved your country. He asked to be sent back. He didn’t want to return. A wink. A grin. A look back at my face, my body. He brought back photos, they add. Your women, they suggest with a smile and nod, leaving me to finish their thought. My stomach tightens. (…) No story is ever simple. Every photograph extends beyond the frame. Each eye shapes what it sees, and history bends to fit our needs” (Mengiste 2016: 183-184).
[9] I am referring to Michel De Certeau’s interpretation of this expression in The Invention of the Everyday, regarding narrative as coming out of the normative place, displacement, wandering: “where the map divides, the narrative crosses. It is ‘diegesis’, the Greek term for narration: it establishes a path and passes through (‘transgresses’). (…) If the delinquent exists only by moving, if its characteristic consists in living not at the margins but in the interstices of the codes it eludes and displaces, if it is characterised by the privilege of the path over the state, then the tale is delinquent (…), [a] contesting mobility, disrespectful of places, playful and threatening at times. (…) In matters of space, this delinquency begins with the inscription of the body in the text of the order. The opaque of the body in movement’ (De Certeau 2001: 190-191).
[10] “Their breathing is not separated from the breathing of the ocean, their breathing is not separated from the sharp exhale of hunted whales, their kindred also. Their breathing did not make them individual survivors. It made a context. The context of undrowning. Breathing in unbreathable circumstances is what we do every day in the chokehold of  racial gendered ableist capitalism’ (Gumbs 2023:10).
[11] Wissal Houbabi, Writing with the feet, performance: LINK.
[12] “The mouth is a very special organ, it symbolises speech and enunciation. Through racism it becomes the organ of oppression par excellence. (…) Who can speak? What happens when we speak? And what can we talk about?” (Kilomba 2021: 30-31).
[13] “I therefore decided to take only a few photos as a starting point for my research: those that I was sure existed for me. Nothing to do with a corpus: just a few bodies. (…) What does my body know about Photography?” (Barthes 1980: 10).
[14] “Is it possible to look at things from the outside? And if this is possible whose are the eyes that are watching?” (Calvino, Palomar).


Barthes, La camera chiara, Einaudi, 1980.
Butler, Le alleanze dei corpi, Nottetempo, 2017.
Connerton, Come le società ricordano, Armando Editore, 1999.
Connerton, Come la modernità dimentica, Einaudi, 2010.
De Certeau, La scrittura dell’Altro, Raffaello Cortina, 2005.
De Certeau, L’invenzione del quotidiano, Edizioni Lavoro, 2001.
Duncan, L’odore del colonialismo, in V. Gravano e G. Grechi (a cura di), Presente imperfetto. Eredità coloniali e immaginari razziali contemporanei, Mimesis, 2016.
Fanon, Pelle nera maschere bianche, ETS, 2015.
Fassin, Quando i corpi ricordano. Esperienze e politiche dell’AIDS in Sudafrica, Argo, 2016.
Foucault, La vita degli uomini infami, Il Mulino, 2009.
Foucault, Un pensiero del corpo, Ombre Corte, 2019.
Glissant, Poetica della relazione, Quodlibet, 2007.
Grechi, Decolonizzare il museo, Mimesis, 2021.
P. Gumbs, Undrowned. Lezioni di femminismo nero dai mammiferi marini, Timeo, 2023.
Harney e F. Moten, Undercommons, Tamu e Archive Books, 2021.
Hartman, Venus in Two Acts, “Small Axe, a Caribbean Journal of Criticism”, Vol. 12, n. 2 (giugno 2008), Duke University Press.
Hartman, Perdi la madre, Tamu, 2021.
hooks, Elogio del margine, Tamu, 2020.
Mengiste, Bending History, in NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art, n. 38–39, November 2016, pp. 183-185.
Pacelli, M.F. Papi, F. Pierangeli, Attorno a questo mio corpo, Hacca, 2010.
Ponge, Appunti per una conchiglia, in Il partito preso delle cose, Einaudi, 1979.
B. Preciado, Manifesto controsessuale, Fandango, 2019.
B. Preciado, Sono un mostro che vi parla, Fandango, 2021.
B. Preciado, Dysphoria Mundi, Fandango, 2023.
S. B. Ndikung, Those who are dead are not ever gone. On the maintenance of supremacy, the ethnological museums and the intricacies of the Humboldt Forum, Archive Books, 2018.
N. Scheper-Hughes, Il sapere incorporato: pensare con il corpo attraverso un’antropologia medica critica, in
Borofsky R., L’antropologia culturale oggi, Meltemi, 2000.


abstract submission deadline
by 25 june 2024


publication 16 september 2024
article by 25 august 2024





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