Phenomenologies of Grace: The Body, Embodiment and Transformative Futures

This book is a compilation of articles about grace and how is can be embodied in a variety of forms: intellectually, spiritually, artistically, educationally, politically, but above all: humanly.

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Who said that "grace" must confined to metaphysical matters? This book advocates grace as an embodied practice.


This book explores the place of the body and embodied practices in the production and experience of grace in order to generate transformative futures. The authors offer a range of phenomenologies in order to move the philosophical anchoring of phenomenology from an abstracted European tradition into more open and complex experiential sets of understandings. Grace is a sticky word with many layers to it, and the authors explore this complexity through a range of traditions, practices, and autobiographical accounts. The goal is to open a grace-space for reflection and action that is both futures-oriented and enlivening.

“This collection of essays explores Grace Thinking and Grace Operatives: what a great program! It is so new, so fresh, that it helps us in our task of building new ways of seeing the world and new ways of living. The graceful life, for Tagore and Gandhi, is based on coherence: it is the connection between our ideas, feelings, actions, our way of life and the words we say in everyday life. Sincerity, integrity and coherence mean joy. We learned from this book that Grace is, at the same time, the way of living with joy and the way of facing sadness with wisdom.”

Débora Nunes

Senior Lecturer in EcoUrbanism, Universidade do Estado da Bahia, Brazil

“In a world increasingly suffering a grace deficit through vulgar politics, vapid social media and other ills, it is refreshing to find a book completely dedicated to how an appreciation of the pre-givenness of life, literally its gracefulness, both sustains and dignifies our human experience. Especially valuable is how the editors have assembled writers from around the world, revealing how the practice of grace is a global challenge, but one with many rich resources. Gracias.”

David Geoffrey Smith

Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta, Canada

“Can words awaken us? Can they dance off the page and into the very center of our intuitive knowing? These beautifully crafted essays propel us both backwards and forwards into ancient futures as we are urged to re/member, re/collect, and re/connect to what we have always known, but perhaps forgotten – that the body is a source of inexhaustible wisdom and boundless creativity, and that grace is in the air around us, can we but learn to breathe. And in this deep breathing, to perhaps find our way out of the anguish of the present moment, the unbearableness of the damage we have wrought upon the planet, and into the making of a re/animated, re/enchanted world where everything is alive, awake, and precious.”

Kathleen Kesson

Professor Emerita, Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, School of Education, Long Island University, USA

“Grace is a word that one rarely hears in contemporary cultural discourse. In theology (especially Christian theology) perhaps, but in few other contexts. This boundary-crossing book challenges that silence in multiple ways – by relating grace to aesthetics, to human well-being, to music, to play (including the play of adults) and to education, and in doing so, takes the idea of the phenomenology of grace well beyond its conventional religious boundaries. We often recognize grace when we see it – in dance or deportment for example – but we rarely pursue its implications beyond the superficial. This book does so, and opens up vistas and the deep grammar of everyday life in ways that mainstream social science rarely does, or is afraid to approach. The gentleness of the theme belies the robustness of the content, in ways, I think, never having been done before.”

John Clammer

O.P. Jindal Global University, Delhi and the University of Kyoto

“If the body is a mansion, it is a mansion with many windows that may open to admit grace. Grace in any or all of its disruptive and sometimes disquieting forms. This extraordinary book tours the mansion and throws open window upon window, each offering views of the world as it could be. Not for the faint-hearted.”

Marilyn Mehlmann

Co-Founder, Legacy17 cooperative association, Stockholm, Sweden, and Vice President, Union of International Associations, Brussels, Belgium

"This grace-full book addresses the question of what constitutes the human now and offers fascinating insights on how human our future could be. Journeying through various parts of the world, the authors explore body movement and embodied action in space and place, language and affect, music and the imaginary, thus expanding the concept and practice of “grace” to the everyday. The book’s critical voice against a globalizing modernity that desymbolizes and routinizes everyday life, certainly makes it an important paedagogical tool."

C. Nadia Seremetakis

Professor of Cultural Anthropology, University of the Peloponnese, Greece

“Phenomenologies of Grace is a perfect combination between scholarly work and a practical guide (on how to deal with experiences of Grace). The section on the Aesthetics of Grace is particularly interesting, approaching many original and challenging concepts such as ‘uncanny epistemology’ and ‘mutant futures’.”

Erick Felinto

Professor, Department of Media Studies, State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)

“When asked my key indicator for success at a workshop or speech, I often say: "It is when angels enter the room." Now after reading Bussey's and Mozzini-Alister's text, I see, the key indicator for success is when there is grace in the room. Grace, however, can be multiple - it can be bliss, failure, a moment of discord, and a moment of transformation. Grace pushes us from pushing, allowing us to be quiet. And grace brings in discordant sounds into the room. And grace leaves us changed. This book is a serious attempt to understand how grace uses us and how we can sit with Grace.”

Sohail Inayatullah

Professor at Tamkang University, Taipei and Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast