Stitching methods and memories02/11/21
Anna has recently published a new article in the journal Multimodality & Society, in a special issue edited by Cristina Moretti on creative methods for studying sensate memory. The article is part of Making Clinical Sense’s experiments in sensory methods and learning, turning this time to texture and cloth by looking at textural methods as a way to tell stories of bodily encounters with microbes. It draws on Anna’s auto-ethnographic experiences and sensory memories of learning to make sourdough bread.
Here is the full abstract of Anna’s article:
How to render sensory memory? In this article, I speculate on the possibilities of textural methods which attend closely to textile forms, specifically embroidery, as a way to explore this enduring question in multimodal research. To open up concerns about bodily relations between humans, as well as the more-than-human bodies we share worlds with, this article focuses on sensory memory fragments of encounters with the microbial conglomerations of sourdough bread starter. I offer three bubbling, sour-sweet texts: 1) an archived auto-ethnographic account of learning how to make a sourdough starter; 2) a social-media inspired piece on the sticky home archives of quarantine; and 3) a future speculative citizen science project. These fragments co-exist with microbes I have embroidered on ancient linens. From the tangy strings of sourdough histories, and the tangled threads in cloth I draw concrete methodological suggestions for new directions in textural research projects, such as material fieldnotes and crafted data. In doing so, I join other authors in this special issue in the call for multimodal forms of ethnographic storytelling about sensory memory, in this case one that attends not only to messy entanglements with bodies but also their textural, material, layered histories extending into the depth of their surfaces.
Here is a full abstract describing the special issue:
This issue brings together 10 anthropologists who investigate the potential of multimodality and the role of sensing, as situated social practice, in the complex working of memory. Through video, images, texts and sound—and through collage, installations, embroidery, and drawing—we invite the audience of Multimodality & Society to consider: What are some of the complex relationships between memory and the senses? How does multimodality help us approach the study of remembering and forgetting? This introduction frames our work into current debates in multimodal and sensory anthropology, discusses our approaches to memory, and draws some of the common themes that connect our contributions. Collectively, we investigate memory as sensate, emplaced, and affective, and existing in a complex relation with temporality and practices of forgetting. We are particularly interested in the links between multi-sensory approaches and the possibilities offered by multimodality. We argue that the latter can help us think of sensate memory, and vice versa, studying remembering and forgetting as multisensory can demonstrate some of the potential of multimodal scholarship.