"Understanding Field Research: A Reflection on the Study of Soundscape and the Anthropology of the Sense"

Speaker: Komatra Chuengsatiansup (Visiting Professor)
Date:16:30-17:30, April 15 (Fri), 2005
Venue: Lecture Room on the 3rd Floor, Common Building in ASAFAS.

From my field research among the Kui elephant hunter in Northeast Thailand, my presentation will focus on understanding fieldwork from local sensoryexperience. I will examine how attention to the senses and sense-perception (such as sound and acoustic experience) in the field would help us to better understand the community we study. In the case of the Kui elephant hunter, women's lives and experiences were shaped by various sounds that constituted the soundscape of everyday life in the communities. In Kui women's sense-perception, certain sounds were endowed with not only cultural meanings but also political power. These sounds could be viewed as sonic icons, for its symbolic power could trigger specific bodily response such as illness.
To understand the lives and experience of women in the Kui community, it is therefore crucial for researcher, on the one hand, to have an adequate theoretical understanding of the sense, and, on the other hand, to be sensitive to the varieties of sensory construction of local life-world.

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