Creatively and critically defamiliarizing the world: sensing space otherwise

Authors: Tim Edensor*, Manchester Metropolitan University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: defamiliarisation, sensation, illumination, darkness
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As Constance Classen insists, ‘sensory values not only frame a culture’s experience, they express its ideals, its hopes and its fears’ (Claessen, 1993: 136) for there are distinctive ways in which the senses are culturally shaped, so that we perceive according to norms which prescribe what is sensually desirable and acceptable. In this presentation, I discuss how instances of defamiliarization can productively confound normative ways of apprehending the world, making the ordinary strange and foregrounding the political and cultural values through which forms of common sense and ‘common-sensing’ is produced. I will argue that through entering unfamiliar realms of sensory strangeness, by creating illusions and effects with illumination, and by being plunged into the unfamiliar condition of darkness, we can critically explore the cultural and biological partiality of our senses. This serves as starting point for a consideration of how, to follow Jacques Rancière, we might redistribute the sensory in more progressive ways.

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