Phenomenologies of Fire: Exploring Combustive Ethnography and the Articulating Sensorium

Shalanda Phillips


Fire poi refers to a style of object manipulation developed from a traditional Maori dance in which performers swing two or more weights attached to a length of chain or rope. Fire performers wield lit torches, spinning them into streams of pulsing patterns. This paper investigates the sensory dimension of movement through fire. Specifically, combustion is treated as the catalyst through which dancing bodies become increasingly sensitized to, and able to differentiate between, highly excited environments. Approaching fire poi through Bruno Latour’s notion of articulation, this paper explores how combustion organizes and propels particular apparatuses of sensory production.

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University of Victoria