The Sensorial Methods working group explores, in theory and in practice, how paying closer attention to the senses can enhance research on urban violence. This project brings together a group of scholars from the UK and Brazil: Dr Chandra Morrison (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in LACC), Dr Laurie Denyer Willis (University of Edinburgh), Dr Rebecca Jarman (University of Leeds), Dr Flavia Medeiros (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina), Dr Simone Toji (Brazilian National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage), and Dr Stamatis Zografos (UCL).
Smell, sound, touch, and sight pervade our field sites when conducting research on themes of urban violence. These sensory experiences enhance embodied understandings of everyday experiences of violence and harm, offering insights into socio-political conditions by drawing attention to the body itself as a site of experience and governance. They also generate meaningful and memorable interactions between researchers, participants, and audiences where language renders inadequate, such as when victims of violence or trauma are silenced or find words insufficient in mediating lived experiences. Sensory forms of knowledge illuminate aspects of violence that are challenging to verbalise, revealing themselves instead through disparate experiential and expressive modes. Yet, so often these dimensions remain excluded from the writing up and dissemination of research findings. How can we bring these other senses into our writing and analysis, to recentre their insights within knowledge production and use these to form new connections with the audiences of our research?
Drawing on experimental practices engaged by each participating researcher, the working group explores how to better integrate and represent sensorial dimensions within research outputs. By expanding possibilities of output production and platforms for dissemination, this equally opens avenues to broaden the public reach and engagement of research findings.
To develop this intellectual exchange, the project incorporates regular remote meetings amongst participant researchers to introduce our individual expertise in working across diverse sensorial and multimodal methods. Pending feasibility of international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will culminate with a workshop, hosted at the Centre, that aims to combine discussions on theory and methodological developments with a series of applied sessions on sensorial research practices. In addition to producing a series of multimedia outputs, participant researchers will contribute to a special journal issue on “Sensorial Methods within Urban Violence Research” upon conclusion of the project.
Banner image by Tânia Rêgo, CC BY 2.0 and right-column image by Arquivo/PRF, CC BY 2.0