Anthropologie et Sociétés – 1990 Volume 14 numéro 2

David Le Breton
– The Conjugation of the Senses
The individual only becomes aware of himself through sensing, he experiences his existence by means of the perceptual and sensory resonances which pass over him. Our sensory perceptions, intertwined with meanings, determine the fluctuating limits of the environment in which we live, tracing its scope and its savour. Perception is not coterminous with the objective world, but always already interpretation. Every person occupies a sensory universe tied to what his personal history has made of his education.

Laurier Lacroix
– The Studio-Museum
The contemporary artwork reworks and integrates several of the effects and affects produced at the intersection of two significant sites: the creative space and the gallery space, the studio and the museum. The strategy is not new; since the 19th century various artists have chosen to “museumize” their studio. Do museum constraints permit the preservation and transmission of a creative approach’s essence, its polysensorial impact? Can the conditions that prevail in the studio – the space, the light, the tactile and olfactory qualities of materials, the environment created by the works it contains – offer spectators who venture within a different experience from the one provided by a museum? A veritable encounter with an artistic vision? Four types of studio-museum (decor, gallery, storage, process) define different learning structures that plunge the visitor into a more complete apprehension of the work in situ.

Gediminas Lankauskas
– Sensing Memories of Socialism
Distancing itself from logocentric methodologies that privilege narrative and text in
memory research, this paper insists on the importance of the senses in practices of social recall. Through ethnographic analysis of an open-air museum commemorating Soviet history in today’s Lithuania, it examines differential ways in which sight and taste are mobilized as memory media for linking the nation’s socialist past with its “capitalist” present. The paper also argues that this museum constitutes an apt ethnographic locus in which to critique unproblematic unilinear approaches to the ongoing systemic change in the European East after Communist rule.

Muriel Clair – Betwixt Sight and Hearing
This essay offers an historical investigation of the crossing of sensory cultures in the
Iroquois missions of the seventeenth century in an attempt to assess the role that light played, as matter and as symbol, in the encounter between the Jesuits and the Iroquois. The analysis of the relations between vision and audition in these two cultures permits us to better understand the popularity of shiny materials in the missionizing context. While the Jesuits opposed word and image, the audible and the visible, the Iroquois saw vision as the equivalent of the voice. This equivalence was manifest in the use of shiny materials like, for example, shell bands (wampum) in the transmission of important speeches. The play of light on the surface of things subsumed the differences between sight and hearing for the Iroquois. It could be that this was the reason the missionaries privileged luminous decor in their apostolic activities among the Iroquois. Through creating interiors adorned with candles, wampum and textiles, the Jesuits sought to “convert” the Amerindians to their conception of a beyond that was immeasurably more luminous and Jife-giving than the glints of light off the surface of things. It remains that, for the Iroquois, these intermittent reflections were precious in themselves : such glimmers vitalized the social fabric, replenished forces, and distributed an inestimable bounty to the whole community.

Phil Jackson – Get Your Freak On
Based on many years of participant observation in the London UK club scene, this paper seeks to show how the seemingly chaotic and frenzied environment of the club offers important insights into the role played by the body in both underpinning and subverting cultural worlds. Studying this environment allows us to chart the effects that radically altered socio-sensual practices have on the lives of participants as they move back out into the everyday world. We can see how the experiences uncovered via clubbing creates alternative co-ordinates within the sensual landscape of participants’ lives, throwing the usually ‘taken for granted’ status of the habitus into relief. The resulting schism in the sensual fabric of culture allows people to disembody themselves from the habitus and gain a visceral autonomy from its unconscious mechanisms of control. This slippage manifests itself in various ways, ranging from the creation of alternative social practices, to the invention of new language and the development of new perspectives upon and relationships to the wider culture.

Nadège Corrion and Jean-Sébastien Marcoux
This article offers a brief foray into the experience economy. It explores the commercialization of touch within late consumer capitalism through the example of massage. The article examines how the cultural elaboration of the sensory and sensual experience of touch, which is being fashioned within the marketplace of massage, contributes to an expansion of the sensorium. In doing so, this article takes us to the very heart of current reflection on the culture of the senses, if not the objectification of touch.

Susanne Küchler – Materials That Work
New materials compete now over artefacts and functions in ways that will unsettle our received assumptions about the nature of the social and culture world we inhabit. This note of research outlines the need to chart the introduction and uptake of new materials and new technologies to understand the implication that these innovations will have for theory and methodology in the social and historical sciences, It suggests that its study in the Euro-American context can benefit from comparable ethnographic data from regions of the world where knowledge economies have long been practice; data, shunned by an object and production centered approach to social technology and its transmission.

Mélissa Gauthier – The Used Clothing Trade along the Mexico/United-States Border
In recent years, second-hand clothing has become the focus of greater attention in anthropology and material culture studies. This contribution examines the cross-border trade in second-hand clothing between EI Paso (United States) and Ciudad Juarez (Mexico). It describes how Mexican cross-border traders sort through the bale of second-hand clothes at the American warehouses as well as the many acts of clothing refurbishment they perform on clothes before putting them on display in the markets stalls. This paper emphasizes how important the material and sensory dimensions of second-hand clothes are in the processes of « re-enchantment» and « recommodification » which enable them to enter new cycles of consumption.

Jean-Pierre Lemasson – Taste and the City
The relations between taste and the city have largely gone unstudied. In an effort to stimulate reflection on this nexus, three lines of investigation are suggested. The first line explores the way in which different cities – for geographical, historical and cultural reasons – have developed their own unique “signature” dishes and systems of savours. The second seeks to demonstrate how the changing patterns of eating and drinking in Montreal have impacted on the experience and development of urban space and time, tipping the balance in favour of greater conviviality. Finally, with a view to the future, this essay foresees the relations between taste and the city growing ever more intricate, most notably through the development of gourmet circuits; the ideal of the garden-city becoming reality (with the increasing production of food in urban environments), and the creation of new institutions dedicated to the furtherance of taste.