The City and the Senses: Exposure, Health and the Urban Environment
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Drexel University, Philadelphia
Call for Papers and Presentations:
The city has long been known to be inviting and exciting because of the heightened sensuality to which we are exposed in its environs. For instance, the city can expose us to a pleasurable cacophony of sounds. Yet the city can also subject us to sounds that are often received as noise, and thus prove to be both disturbing and a threat to one’s health. In these ways, as Corbin (1986) has noted, the senses have been appropriated as “analytical tools, sensitive gauges for the degree of pleasantness or unpleasantness of the physical environment.” Consequently, through public health policies and initiatives “harsh sensations are kept at bay by the regulation of extraneous sensory intrusions and the production of moderated soundscapes, tactilities, smellscapes and scenes” (Edensor, 2007). Here the objective is to tame the sensory environment of the city in ways that limit the range of sensory experiences.
This conference seeks to examine the relationship between the sensory exposure of city life and health and livability by inquiring into public health concerns around the sensory dimensions of the city’s environment—noise pollution (the sense of hearing), visual pollution (the sense of sight), congestion (the sense of touch), air pollution (the sense of smell), and food pollution (the sense of taste)—and the ways in which exposure to these so-called environmental pollutants are said to have a largely unfavorable impact on the health of the urban population and the livability of cities.
However, rather than simply affirming or rejecting the public health view (the medical model) of the sensory environment of the city, this one-day conference is interested in formulating the complexity and ambiguity of the sensory experience of the urban environment (which necessarily means also bringing to view the ambiguity of the city), and consequently formulating a more robust understanding of both health and the livability of cities than those offered by public health and its conventional critics, formulations that stand apart from public health and its critics without necessarily opposing them.
Papers and presentations that examine the relationship between the sensory exposure of city life and health and livability are invited in relation to the all of the five sensory dimensions of urban life. Papers and presentations might address, but are not only
limited to, the following suggested topics:
The Sense of Sight:
Graffiti and posters vs murals
Architecture/the built environment
The Sense of Smell:
Slaughterhouses and Abattoirs
Domestic farm animals in the city
The Sense of Touch:
The seediness of the city (red light districts).
Street peddlers vs enclosed markets
Congestion/over-crowding/contagion vs respiration and circulation
The Sense of Taste:
Convenience foods/street foods
Restaurant and food service inspection
Unpasteurized milk and cheese
The Sense of Sound:
The Conference also welcomes the submission of panel proposals. Abstracts of up to 250 words should be submitted by Friday 27th April 2012. Abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract. E-mail subject line should be: City and the Senses Abstract Submission.
All submitted proposals will be acknowledged. If you do not receive a reply within a week, it is very likely your proposal was not received. In which case, you will want to resend.
Proposals should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Saeed Hydaralli, Visiting Fellow
Great Works Symposium
Pennoni Honors College
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