Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Biological Anthropology Section
Of interest to: Students
Primary Theme: Biologies
Secondary Theme: Materiality
Sensation—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching—and sensory modalities—nociception, mechanoreception, chemoreception, thermoception, proprioception, equilibrioception—are the basis for human interactions with the world and with each other. Artists and philosophers have long explored the connection between perception, sensation, and emotion; psychologists have recently begun to do so in a more systematic way (Phelps et al. 2006; Stefanucci et al. 2011; Zadra and Clore 2011). Archaeologists too have developed an interest in identifying the materiality of sensation and emotion, which drive the constitution and reconstitution of daily existence, social life, and deathways (e.g., Day, 2013; Hamilakis, 2013; Kus, 1989; Pellini et al., 2015; Tarlow, 2000, 2012; Fleisher and Norman, 2016). Bioarchaeologists also have begun seeking to capture human sensation and emotional experiences through research on embodiment and phenomenological approaches to violence, disease, deviance, disability, and care (Bourbou, 2013; Boutin, 2016; Hill, 2015; Geller, 2006; Gowland, 2017; Wesp 2017). The influence of emotions — love, fear, coping, dysfunction, attachment, desire, pride, concern, loneliness, and anxiety, to name a few — on perception and sensation, as mediated through the body, is well-suited to further bioarchaeological exploration. This session will bring together bioarchaeologists interested in developing critical perspectives on sensational experiences, emotional relations, and their material manifestations in bodies and burials from the past. Our goal is to explore the tension between recognizing the emotional and perceptual aspects of past peoples’ experience and negotiating the pitfalls of ethnocentric legitimization of modern, Western feelings and perspectives.