Do We Smell as Our Parents Did?

Olivier Wathelet
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Smell perception is often reduced to an individualistic experience, modestly influenced by cultural values or social norms. On the contrary, we hypothesise a more complex relation between those methodological units, notably by showing the various ways of transmission of olfactory knowledge and know-how inside French families. One important feature of these processes is the need for vertical transmission (from parents to children) to “works” with horizontal one (between social relations). As a first referential structure, primary sensory experience seems to play a guiding role in perceptual categorization and smell preferences. New and forthcoming experiences are memorized thanks to verbalization and embodiment, providing both cultural constraints on the memory organization. At the same time, it seems that a prototypical cognitive organization of the perception constraint this process. This experimental way of thinking this question needs that we, anthropologists, pay more attention to the cognitive factors of sensory perception, and think cognition in other modularity that vision.

From a theoretical standpoint, we advocate then for a dualistic determination in the course of individual knowledge ontogeny. Culture is not only an adjuvant to this process, but, as we could say for the cognitive individual architecture, an integral part of it. From a methodological standpoint, we advocate for a collect of linguistic and sensory events as expressed in phenomenological verbal recollection, linked in a second time to data provided by classical psychological (laboratory tasks) and anthropological (observation, open-interviews) procedures

Keywords: Sensory Anthropology, Smell, Perception, Cognitivie Anthropology, Cultural Transmission
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies and Humanities, Psychology, Cognitive Science and the Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Olivier Wathelet

Ph.D student, Laboratoire d'Anthropologie : Mémoire, Identité, Cognition Sociale (LMAIC, E.A. 3179), Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis
Nice, France

Ref: I06P0345