Cristina Matei


Research project: Thinking Affectively: The Question of Touch in Adorno's Philosophy


The question of touch is an inherently contradictory one, living an interdisciplinary life: the moment we conceptualize it, its integrity is dissolved, and its immediacy undone. For this reason, this research attempts to capture its critical force by analysing the distribution of the moments, texts, and figures in the Western history of touch as it appears to us: making and breaking contact, abandoning periodization, and fracturing the unity of a single, unchangeable origin, in order to situate and expand Adorno's philosophy – a strange development in the thinking of touch running from Aristotle to Merleau-Ponty. The project of locating and elaborating Adorno's philosophy within the expansive history of the sense of touch aims to reveal his work as offering a radically different approach to thinking subject/object relations. In this sense, a new model of thinking can be revealed, one that is especially suited to think the contradiction – a thinking that touches, and by extension, a thinking of touch.

In what way does the concept of touch contribute to the formation of new relations between subjectivity and community? On what determinations of theory and practice can the concept be modeled? Which of the principles of immanence and transcendence ultimately legitimize a thinking of touch? This research aims to study the implications of such questions within the history of this movement and finally to demonstrate that Adorno's position, in contrast with the established interpretation, not only figures but also contributes to the conceptual framework in which the question of touch is addressed.


I studied Art History at Goldsmiths University and took a MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory at the CRMEP, before starting my PhD in the same department.

Areas of research interest

  • Frankfurt School
  • Modern and Contemporary Art and Aesthetics
  • Critical Theory
  • German Idealism


  • BA
  • MA

Funding or awards received

  • Fully Funded TECHNE Scholarship