How to Study Sensory Transformations in Europe?
prof. Helmi Järviluoma
University of Eastern Finland
There is a pressing need to enable both young and older people to maintain a many-faceted relationship with their environments. It has been convincingly argued that attitudes, whether positive or negative, towards given environments will lead to crucial consequences in terms of cultural and ecological sustainability. Temporally and spatially tightly focused, theoretically informed ethnographic sensobiography makes it possible to accept the challenge of studying the multiple ways of past and present sensory experiencing. Smell, hearing, touch, taste, and vision are historical, rather than universal. Obviously, sensory situations differ widely across different regions in Europe, and within different cultures and traditions. In addition, digital communication is one of the factors greatly affecting people’s environmental relationships today. Certain parts of the population – often the aging – either voluntarily stay or are left because of digital ageism in the margins of the digital world. In her lecture, professor Järviluoma will present ways in which it is possible to capture the ever-escaping phenomena related to sensory remembering. Sensobiography is a kind of culmination in a long row of attempts to analyse sensory memories. The method has a long history, but this particular format was developed for the large European Research Council funded project, Sensory Transformations in Europe between 1950–2020 (SENSOTRA). SENSOTRA project, led by Järviluoma, focuses on transgenerational environmental relationships, and engages participant pairs composed of different generations. Three mid-sized European cities Turku, Brighton, Ljubljana are being studied, 32 transgenerational pairs in each city. The objective is to analyze these contextual sensobiographies as crossings of cultural and political with the particular, as encounters, where the city’s transformations became lived and remembered. In the end, researchers are able to offer novel ways of seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling the transformations in the city and in the environmental relationships of its people.