1st Edition

Sensible Objects Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture

Edited By Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, Ruth Phillips Copyright 2006

    Anthropologists of the senses have long argued that cultures differ in their sensory registers. This groundbreaking volume applies this idea to material culture and the social practices that endow objects with meanings in both colonial and postcolonial relationships. It challenges the privileged position of the sense of vision in the analysis of material culture. Contributors argue that vision can only be understood in relation to the other senses. In this they present another challenge to the assumed western five-sense model, and show how our understanding of material culture in both historical and contemporary contexts might be reconfigured if we consider the role of smell, taste, touch and sound, as well as sight, in making meanings about objects.

    Introduction1. The Senses* Enduring and Endearing Feelings and the Transformation of Material Culture in West Africa Kathryn Geurts (Hamline University) with Elvis Gershon Adikah (Hamline University)* Studio Photography and the aesthetics of Citizenship in The Gambia, West AfricaLiam Buckley (John Madison University)* Cooking skill, the senses and memory: the fate of practical knowledgeDavid Sutton (Southern Illinois University)2. Colonialism* Mata Ora: Chiselling the Living Face, Dimensions of Maori Tattoo.Ngahuia Te Akwekotuku (University of Waikato)* Smoked fish and fermented oil: Taste and smell among the Kwakwaka'wakwAldona Jonaitis (Fairbanks Museum, University of Alaska)* Sonic Spectacles of Empire: the Audio-Visual Nexus, Delhi -- London, 1911-12.Tim Barringer (Yale University)3. Museums* The museum as sensescape: western sensibilities and indigenous artefactsConstance Claessen and David Howes (Concordia University)* The Fate of the Senses in Ethnographic Modernity: TheMargaret Mead Peoples of the Pacific Hall at the American Museum of Natural History Diane Losche (University of New South Wales)* Contact Points: Museums and the Lost Body ProblemJeffrey Feldman (New York University)* The beauty of letting go: Fragmentary museums and Archaeologies of archiveSven Ouzman (University of California at Berkeley National Museum of South Africa)


    Elizabeth Edwards is Professor and Senior Research Fellow, University of the Arts London. Chris Gosden is at The Pitt Rivers Museum Research Centre, Oxford.Ruth Phillips is at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University, Canada.