Sensational knowledge: emotional and sensory encounters as ways of knowing
David Howes (Concordia University)
Raluca Bianca Roman (University of St Andrews)
Marta Sokol-Klepacka (University of St Andrews)
David Howes (session 1), Marta Sokol Klepacka (session 2), Raluca Roman (session 3)
Raluca Roman (session 1), Raluca Roman (session 2), David Howes (session 3)
Science Site/Chemistry CG83
Start time:
5 July, 2016 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The senses and emotions have migrated from the margins to play a central role in ethnographic practice and theory, displacing language and cognition. What are the implications of this shift for the production and communication of anthropological knowledge?

Long abstract:

Perceptual practices are essential to ways of knowing. The senses mediate the relations between idea and object, self and society, human and non-human animals. In order to access the ""sensational knowledge"" of a culture, fieldworkers must be attentive to local modes of making sense of the world through the senses. At the same time, the experience of fieldwork encompasses various emotional engagements with people, places and entities (gods, animals, spirits): ranging from boredom to anger, loyalty to friendship, despair to exaltation.

This panel seeks to untangle the multiple respects in which ways of sensing generate ways of knowing; it also looks at how emotions shape our experience of fieldwork and our understanding of the world(s) we study. How can we analyse emotions not just as a subject of research but as a methodological tool to understanding the experiences of others? How does perception enter into ontological concepts of time and space? What role do senses play in policing social boundaries? What can we learn from a sensorial approach to situations of war and conflict? How do we transfer senses and emotions into anthropology's ultimate product, the ethnographic writing?

By bringing ethnography to its senses, new realms of experience and meaning become available for exploration and interpretation. Hoping to debate the ways in which knowledge is not only emotional but is also shaped by specific understandings of emotions and ways of sensing the world, we invite we invite ethnographic, methodological and analytical papers that confront the issues at hand