Elena Clare Cuffari


Elena Clare Cuffari is a Marie Curie Experienced Research Fellow in the TESIS (Towards an Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity) Network, working in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in San Sebastian. Her doctoral work was carried out at the University of Oregon. Her primary research interests are in philosophy of language, mind, and cognitive science, particularly embodied, enactive, and distributed approaches to these topics. Elena is currently investigating the constitutive role of bodily interactions in the creation and modulation of meaning, with specific focus on hand gestures, metaphoricity, and relationship dynamics. She is interested in proliferating the notion of embodiment used to analyze cognition and communication and in developing the intersection of feminist philosophy, feminist science studies, dialogic ethics, and embodied cognitive science.

Presentation title: “Risk, Vulnerability, and Recognition: Reflections on Language, Self, and Others in Non-ideal Interactions A roundtable discussion on enacting conflict transformation.”

Abstract: With this roundtable discussion we intend to lay out some initial theoretical ground for possible co-constructions between an enactive understanding of self experience in dialogical encounters on the one hand, and the ameliorative ethical and political aims of conflict reconciliation and transformation on the other. We hold in common the following claims, which bear a complex non-linear relation to each other:

(1) Recognition is a basic requirement for actual communication and intersubjective meaning-making to take place.

(2) One’s sense of self is an on-going achievement within social environments and which requires the active contributions of others.

(3) There are regularly occurring, non-pathological differences between persons that constitutively effect the meaning in communicative interactions (both because and in spite of the intersubjective conditions of selfhood).

Each of these themes are in play in each short presentation.

Elena Cuffari will discuss the challenges of listening across different lifetimes and lifeworlds of experience. An enactive perspective on languaging activity indicates that people develop linguistic sensitivities and capabilities via idiosyncratic histories of incorporating strategies of coping in enlanguaged environments. While people share conventions (symbols, roles, norms, moves, and other enabling constraints) that partially facilitate communication, there is an important and often overlooked way in which speaking the same language must be a mindfully and mutually negotiated achievement in particular, local moments of languaging interactions. On this view, languaging is understood as coordinating meaning as well as behavior, and meaning is understood as consequences in experience. Therefore, sharing meaning is matter of ‘hearing’ the experience an interlocutor enacts in her languaging. Differences in world-relation (e.g. based on trauma, or specific cultural upbringings) make this kind of hearing a challenge and hence a valued accomplishment.