The historic realm of the senses

Staying dwelling might cut back COVID-19 an infection however shouldn’t be the most secure place for all. Ladies with violent companions are extra susceptible to abuse throughout lockdown, as is painfully evident trying on the state of affairs for rural girls migrants in India: ‘In keeping with assist traces that reply to girls in home misery, the variety of calls after the lockdown … has elevated by fifty per cent,’ writes Atreyee Sen in L’Homme.

India’s ongoing collection of lockdown / ‘unlock’ phases since March 2020 has supplied little reprieve. Susceptible girls who dwell in slums usually ‘get respite when their husbands are away working lengthy hours as low-paid labourers’, stories Sen. However ‘being caught at dwelling throughout a pandemic has disrupted these cycles of encountering and escaping home violence’.

Sen’s direct contact with victims of sexual abuse supplies stark perception of harrowing occasions. One account remembers the care one girl takes of one other on her reverse migration from metropolis to countryside, regardless of being unable to bodily assist the raped girl she finds in a ditch.

However Sen additionally describes the extraordinary ‘sound of solidarity’: ‘At any time when Sudha hears Priti cry whereas being attacked, Sudha bangs pots and pans collectively. This type of noise-making (now made fashionable as a type of applause for healthcare staff) prompts different girls within the slum to additionally begin beating their vessels in protest, making the abusive husband perceive that this cacophony is raised as a result of he hurts his spouse.’

Within the realm of the senses

The senses are a pure operate of the human physique, but they’re outlined, skilled and utilized in a cultural and historic context: the sensory order and the social order are inextricably intertwined. What occurs to gender relations when the sensorium is upset by warfare, cultural contact or adjustments in consumption?

Ruminating on soaps, perfumes and shampoo, Stephanie Weismann examines the olfactory notion of political, social and gender orders in socialist Poland. The ‘smellscape’ of cosmetics not solely supplies perception into cultural practices of on a regular basis life, but in addition serves as an indicator of political and financial change. Sniffing by means of numerous beauty merchandise below state socialism in Poland, Weismann tracks down what was truly was within the air.

Additionally: Julia Barbara Köhne on using narco-hypnosis to re-masculinize and remilitarize American and British ‘warfare hysterics’ throughout WWII; Daniela Hacke on sensory stimuli in journey stories on North America within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and Manon Brouillet on Homer’s staging of Athena’s female physique.

This text is a part of the 22/2020 Eurozine evaluation. Click on right here to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter to get updates on evaluations and our newest publishing.

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