UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mapping meditation : understanding meditation and adverse events through actor network theory Hare, Michael Riley


This thesis examines the application of Actor Network Theory (ANT) to sitting meditation practice as a complex interaction between the body, mind, and beliefs of the practitioner. To that end, the essay uses previous work done by Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholar António Carvalho. The essay begins by unpacking and criticizing Carvalho’s own ANT analysis and arguments around the way meditation practice supposedly produces nonmodern subjectivities that are beneficial for the practitioner, namely an experience of an extended sense of self, novel forms of awareness and encounters with phenomena not commonly found in daily life. The criticism homes in on issues known as the category, development and optimism problems associated with Carvalho’s argument. To produce a picture of meditation practice that is more inclusive of unpleasant experiences with meditation, the essay makes use of research on Meditation Adverse Events (MAEs). Bringing these threads together, the thesis utilizes the work of Annemarie Mol alongside interviews found in Carvalho, Buddhist texts and sociological research. The outcome is a more robust ANT, one that accounts for the important points Carvalho emphasizes and includes important insights around how individuals relate to their bodies, minds, different experiences found in meditation practice, and the narratives they use to frame their understanding of the place of practice within their lives.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International