Interview with Samantha Frost, ‘Attentive Body’: Epigenetic Processes and the Self-formative Subjectivity

Tamari, Tomoko. 2021. Interview with Samantha Frost, ‘Attentive Body’: Epigenetic Processes and the Self-formative Subjectivity. Body & Society, 27(3), pp. 87-101. ISSN 1357-034X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The interview is a follow up from Samantha Frost’s paper, ‘The Attentive Body: How the Indexicality of Epigenetic Processes Enriches Our Understanding of Embodied Subjectivity’ in Body & Society 26(4): 3-34. Tomoko Tamari invites Frost to explore her interest in ‘biocultural creatures,’ which led a focus on ‘bodies’ responsive self-transformation’ in epigenetic processes, and unfolds Peirce’s account of the index for understanding meaning-making in biological processes. Tamari also introduces Katherine Hayles’s notion of ‘cognitive nonconscious’ to raise the question of the possible theoretical and mechanical similarities/discrepancies between epigenetic processes in organisms and the meaning-making process in computational systems. Drawing on Jacob von Uexkull’s notion of ‘umwelt’ and introducing Yoshimi Kawade’s remarks on a living being’s subjective orientation in environments, a further question about ‘intention’ and ‘subjectivity’ enables Frost to unpack her notion of ‘the attentive self’ and discuss its relation to ‘intentionality’ and ‘referentiality’ in epigenetic processes. Finally, Samantha Frost remarks on current projects that seek to explore the connection between ‘attention-as-responsive-self-transformation and ‘mode-of-living-as-form-of-live’.
The biosemiotics view of the living body presented in your paper leads us to go beyond the mechanical view of organism functionality and formation process of subjectivity. This challenge asks us to combine biology and semiotics in order to explore the complex mechanism of meaning-making in organisms and to capture ‘the attentive body’ and ‘embodied subjectivity.’ You argue that the concept of the attentive body helps us make a bridge between the body as matter and mind/subjectivity which natural science usually excludes from its domain.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Computational media, epigenetics, semiotics, subjectivity, umwelt

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


3 April 2021Accepted
22 July 2021Published Online
September 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Apr 2021 14:42

Last Modified:

21 Dec 2021 17:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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