David Howes: Digging Up the Sensorium: Archeology Branching into Sensory Studies – 8 September 2017

Institute of Philosophy Guest Seminar:

Digging Up the Sensorium: Archeology Branching into Sensory Studies

David Howes
Professor of Anthropology / Co-Director, Centre for Sensory Studies
Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec

Date
08 Sep 2017, 17:00 to 08 Sep 2017, 19:00

Venue
Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Abstract

This paper begins by presenting an overview of the sensory turn in the humanities and social sciences that has given rise to the anthropology of the senses, history of the senses, sociology of the senses – and the breaking area of the archeology of the senses, among other fields of “sensory studies.” The field of sensory studies is distinguished by its cultural approach to the study of the senses and sensory approach to the study of culture. The sensorium is a historical formation. On this account: perception begins at the edge of the humanly constructed environment and is conditioned by the “social preformation” of the senses.

The paper then lays out the countervailing  neurobiological account of perception, according to which perception is a matter of “information-processing”. It begins at the edge of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and is conditioned by the properties of the receptor organs.

There is a serious disconnect between the two approaches: the fomer focusses on the interval between sense organ and world, while the latter focusses on the route between sense organ and brain. The paper explores various ways to connect the two approaches by digging up the archaic notion of the sensorium. It then explores the contribution that the emergent field of the archeology of the senses can make to expanding the horizons of the neuroscientific account of perception.

Contact

Institute of Philsophy
IP@sas.ac.uk
020 7664 4865

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