Technologically-propelled comfort. Some theoretical implications of the contemporary overcoming of fatigue


  • Stefano Boni Università di Modena


Parole chiave:

Comfort, Contemporary Technology, Anthropological Phenomenology, Senses, History of Anthropology


This essay uses an anthropological phenomenology to examine the relevance of the notion of comfort. It contains a definition of comfort, an illustration of models of comfort distribution as well as an exploration of the potential contribution of sensuous relaxation in reviving theoretical tools introduced by Michel Foucault (techniques of the self), Philippe Descola (naturalism), Mary Douglas (danger and risk) and Antonio Gramsci (hegemony). I show that these key notions in the history of anthropology can be usefully refashioned to analyse contemporary comfortable existences: the epochal shift towards the overcoming of fatigue; the progressive screening of the undomesticated environment from holistic sensuous experiences; the amplification of disgust associated to organic substances and agencies; the transition from an hegemony exercised through cultural institutions to a generalised dependency on global economic and financial agencies, resulting from the spread of comfortable production.