This project aims to produce new understandings of the changes in people’s sensory environmental relationships in three European cities during a particular period in history from 1950 until 2020.
The three research strands of the project are as follows:
- transformations in mediations of sensory experience at the level of the everyday
- embodied remembering and senses, studied as active, bodily, multisited and multi-timed processes
- sensory commons, for example, how sensing can be studied as a common endeavour.
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, certain parts of the population – often the ageing – either voluntarily stay or are left because of digital ageism in the margins of digital communication
The three thematic strands will be studied through research strategies in which individuals and groups are linked with broader social, cultural, and political contexts and issues in the mid-sized European cities of Brighton (UK), Ljubljana (Slovenia), and Turku (Finland). Scholarly work focuses on global cities and metropolises, however, small and medium-sized cities (SMC) represent over 60 per cent of European urban settlements. In addition, when new research is imagining Europolis and SMC as the true backbone of Europe in terms of culture and sustainability, the senses are paid little attention. All of our research sites have witnessed prominent socio-cultural changes over the past fifty years, having been redeveloped from industrial and maritime-based economies towards the prospect of growth relying on the cultural industries. Turku was the European Capital of Culture in 2011; Brighton is a notable hub for arts, media and research in Southern England; and Ljubljana is the well-known Balkan hotspot for established and underground cultural events alike. From the perspective of examining cultural and societal transformations, middle-sized urban environments can be understood as veritable 'living laboratories', embodying the tacit knowledge of different generations as well as acting as a breeding ground for the avant-garde of lifestyles, work cultures, and art.