Beyond the senses: perception, the environment, and vision impairment

Petty, Karis Jade (2021) Beyond the senses: perception, the environment, and vision impairment. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1359-0987

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Download (468kB)
[img] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (273kB)


The ‘sensory turn’ in anthropology has generated a significant literature on sensory perception and experience. Whilst much of this literature is critical of the compartmentalization of particular ‘senses’, there has been limited exploration of how anthropologists might examine sensory perception beyond ‘the senses’. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with people who have impaired vision walking the South Downs landscape in England, this article develops such an approach. It suggests that the experiences of seeing in blindness challenge the conceptualization of ‘vision’ (and ‘non‐vision’). In place of ‘vision’ (as a sense), the article explores ‘activities of seeing’ – an approach that contextualizes the visual to examine the biographically constituted and idiosyncratic nature of perception within an environment. Through an ethnography of seeing with anatomical eyes and ‘seeing in the mind's eye’, it articulates an approach that avoids associating perception with anatomy, or compartmentalizing experience into ‘senses’.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2020 08:04
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2021 15:00

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update