Dr. Cristina Moretti, “Sensing the City: Questions and Surprises in Multisensory Urban Ethnography”

Thursday February 29, 2024
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

“Sensing the City: Questions and Surprises in Multisensory Urban Ethnography”

Part of the 2024 Spring Colloquium Series

About the Speaker: Dr. Cristina Moretti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University. She is a sensory and urban anthropologist interested in how people inhabit, narrate, theorize, and co-imagine city spaces. Her work in Vancouver, researches urban changes, and how sensory anthropology can attend to different ways of knowing in place and help rethink some of the paradoxes and debates that animate city transformations.

Abstract: What can sensory anthropology bring to the study of cities? During my fieldwork in Milan (Italy) and in Vancouver, my mentors and guides invited me to listen to absent sounds, to tell time with textures, and to flow alongside urban waterways and their swirling sociality. At times, these multisensorial engagements expressed their belonging to the city, at other times their sense of precarity and displacement. Following their insights, I argue that an attention to the senses goes beyond providing a more comprehensive description of urban environments. My interlocutors’ practices of learning, observing, and questioning urban spaces and processes are also ways of enlisting and thinking with the anticipated, the incommensurable, and the surprising, and to trace their liveliness in complex urban transformations. During my research, the particularity of their sensorium also complicated my own observation methods, and questioned the way I thought about time, social relations, and different experiences of inhabiting the city. Listening to their stories of sensing and their sensed storytelling then helped me to privilege their theoretical and methodological interventions, critical questions, and enacted knowledges, and to notice some of the paradoxes that animate city life.

Date and Time: Thursday, February 29, 2024 12:30pm-2:00pm, followed by a light lunch in the ANSO Lino Lounge

Location: Anthropology & Sociology Building (ANSO) Room 134, 6303 NW Marine Drive