Hostile atmospheres, qualisigns and the delicate construction of a dialogue of affects

Authors: Francois-Joseph Daniel*,
Topics: Environment
Keywords: atmosphere, environmental annoyances
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The late changing materialities have generated a whole set of bodily off-putting sensations that have impacted individuals differently. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the landscape we see, the electromagnetic environments we feel, have produced various forms of sensorial and physical disorders that strongly impact people’s daily lives, even though they are not considered to be fully-fledged legitimate diseases. Environmental annoyance, electromagnetic sensitivity or food intolerance are some examples of these sensorial disorders based on the emergence of hostile “atmospheres”. By looking through anthropological literature related to these off-putting sensations, this contribution will give a global understanding of this phenomenon. It argues that the heterogeneous forms of suffering to which they give rise, are grounded in sensory, social and economic impediments that hamper daily enjoyment of life. This impediment perspective moves away from an understanding that is exclusively focused on psychological mechanisms of reactions to the presence of an environmental stressor. Impediments produce complex anthropological and ethical processes that involve understanding one’s own sensations, qualifying the phenomenon, objectifying the disturbance, reordering one’s social life, struggling for recognition and facing devaluation of place. The presentation of a case of odorous pollution in France will illustrate these processes. Particular attention will be paid to the subtle way that the sensations, affects and emotions are shared among a community of people. It will show that, in the context of conflictual odorous pollution, this type of communication involves a different set of qualisigns that make the dialogue of affects between stakeholders effective

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