Ethnographies of coldness and immersion:
Museum climates and underwater worlds
A talk by visiting researcher Susanne Schmitt
Hexagram Resource Centre
EV Building, 11.705
1515 St. Catherine St. W.
no rsvp required
What does it sound like to be immersed in an underwater world at aquariums where the forms of life you watch are actually completely inaudible to you? What does it feel like to work in a medical history museum that puts the body at center stage?
In her work, Susanne Schmitt is interested in the atmospheres and experiential politics of science and medical history museums and public aquariums, spaces that disseminate worldviews on human and non-human bodies and ways of life. Her examination of these spaces draws on sensory and experimental ethnography and an anthropology of the senses. She wonders what physical, sensorial and affective settings that narrate the living want you to feel like - and thus what or who they want you to feel for.
In this talk, coldness, warmth, intimacy, immersion, regionalism and ethnicity are presented as design strategies and as actual experiences in and of such sites. The stories told unfold at a famous German science and medical history museum and at large public aquariums in Germany and China. Tinkering with ethnographic methods such as soundscaping, video-ethnography, collage and apprenticeship - learning to do stuff - the talk addresses how ethnographers co-create and re-politicize atmospheres.
Presented by Hexagram-Concordia in association with the Centre for Sensory Studies and the Sense Lab.
Susanne Schmitt is a social and cultural anthropologist. She received her PhD in 2011 at the University of Munich. Since then, she worked as a research associate at the University of Munich’s Sociology Department where she organized a series of events intersecting gender studies, queer theory, artistic intervention and pop culture on campus and in the city. In her newest project, whose contours she is currently exploring at the Sense Lab at Concordia University’s Hexagram Centre for Research-Creation, she is working ethnographically and artistically with people who build underwater worlds at public aquariums and consumer spaces