Embodied Cognition and Empathic Experiences in War Communication

  • Mindaugas Briedis
  • Mariano Navarro
Keywords: embodied cognition, war imagery, empathy, vulnerability, refugees


Using the perspective of phenomenological-enactive embodied cognition, this paper examines the role of the body in constituting specific social interactions via specific media ecologies (war imagery) during the times of (refugee) crisis. Such media ecologies give affordances that can amplify social beliefs and turn subjective judgments into an intersubjective action. We consider the human body in relation to war media as playing an important role in sustaining social experiences and relations. To that end, the article explores the fundamental experience of empathy, combining the theoretical perspectives of phenomenology and enactivism with the examples from war imagery and refugee embodiment. It is shown that the classical phenomenological tradition offers different yet useful conceptualisations of empathy. We also argue that war images and/or messages should be viewed as means/tools for, rather than representations of, the enaction of certain important experiences. Hence, the article connects the analysis of the affection by war imagery with the subsequent social interactions in the context of refugee crisis.