Library exhibition and essay on stethoscope

written by Anna Harris

Maastricht-Our local research group, MUSTS has made a book about instruments and artefacts from the collection of Centre Céramique, a public library in Maastricht. Many in the group adopted an object. Anna wrote about a stethoscope with colleague Jens Lachmund, Sally wrote about electric plugs and Harro wrote about the Coil of Ruhmkorff. As our colleague Ties van de Werff wrote on his blog "the instruments had remained in storage for years, but are now displayed at the centre—literally and figuratively, they were “unboxed” by the researchers. The instruments will be on display in groups: every two months, a window case positioned amidst books on science and technology will show a fresh group of instruments until all adopted instruments have had their turn".

Stethoscopes in a Melbourne hospital, Anna's fieldwork

The public exhibition is accompanied by a book in Dutch and English, (published by Verloren, Hilversum, edited by Karin Bijsterveld and with pictures by Eric Bleize), which collects the short essays ton the objects. You can order the book here, or read it here.


SensesSquared is funded through the Erasmus+ Cooperation partnerships. It’s full title is “SensesSquared: Becoming through the senses: towards artistic ways of being in the world”, and it is led by Hans Van Regenmortel from Musica Impulscentrum voor Muziek vzw (BE). The project explores sensory interventions in teaching in primary schools in Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

Senses-Based Learning is funded through the NRO Comenius grants, and the PI for that project is Emilie Sitzia, and includes Ilse van Lieshout from Marres and Joost Dijkstra from Maastricht University as the other co-applicants. This project will look at how training the senses can be given a more prominent role in higher education and how you can assess students in this field. Eventually it will lead to an online platform and set up an actual physical space (the Sensory Learning Lab).

Called “Sensing Art, Training the Body”, the collection contains cahiers from various sensory exhibitions between 2017 and 2021, and two essays, including one by Anna reflecting on the Training the Senses lecture series (of which Making Clinical Sense took part several years ago). The book is available from the Marres online and physical shop with five different covers.



The articulation of learning goals, processes and outcomes related to health humanities teaching currently lacks comparability of curricula and outcomes, and requires synthesis to provide a basis for developing a curriculum and evaluation framework for health humanities teaching and learning. This scoping review sought to answer how and why the health humanities are used in health professions education. It also sought to explore how health humanities curricula are evaluated and whether the programme evaluation aligns with the desired learning outcomes.


A focused scoping review of qualitative and mixed-methods studies that included the influence of integrated health humanities curricula in pre-registration health professions education with programme evaluate of outcomes was completed. Studies of students not enrolled in a pre-registration course, with only ad-hoc health humanities learning experiences that were not assessed or evaluated were excluded. Four databases were searched (CINAHL), (ERIC), PubMed, and Medline.


The search over a 5 year period, identified 8621 publications. Title and abstract screening, followed by full-text screening, resulted in 24 articles selected for inclusion. Learning outcomes, learning activities and evaluation data were extracted from each included publication.


Reported health humanities curricula focused on developing students’ capacity for perspective, reflexivity, self- reflection and person-centred approaches to communication. However, the learning outcomes were not consistently described, identifying a limited capacity to compare health humanities curricula across programmes. A set of clearly stated generic capabilities or outcomes from learning in health humanities would be a helpful next step for benchmarking, clarification and comparison of evaluation strategy.

Session Abstract
The operation room lights shine brightly in four surgical theatres. The team is connected remotely, streaming live for this Making and Doing session. This is a simultaneous surgical experiment being performed. The machines are beeping, and the atmosphere is tense. “Scalpel!”. Four multicoloured gloves in four different screens pick up sharp instruments – wait, are they kitchen knives? “Swabs!” Are they dishtowels? The surgery continues, virtually, synchronically, the screens focus on the body part being operated on. Until the bizarre last step, when the surgeons put down their instruments and pick up a knife and fork…and diagnose the edible bodies in front of them by taste. These are no ordinary STS scholars nor ordinary surgeons. This is the work of the Citizen Surgery Collective, an interdisciplinary practice-based research group consisting of artists, critical posthumanists and anthropologists. Our work concerns surgical literacy, sensory skills acquisition, simulation, and the relationship between other-than-human bodies and food. In the spirit of the conference theme ‘good relations’ with its exploration of practices and methods for unequal worlds, our work aims to democratise and redistribute surgical skills, discuss asymmetric interspecies power relations at the dinner table, and develop methods for collaborative remote practices.

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.

Making Measuring Bodies, abstract

Medicine is often criticized in science and technology studies (STS) for its dominating measuring practices. To date, the focus has been on two areas of “metric work”: health-care workers and metric infrastructures. In this article, I step back into the training of clinicians, which is important for understanding more about how practices of measurement are developed. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork in a Dutch medical school to look at how a ubiquitous and mundane tool––measuring tapes––is embodied by medical students as they learn to coordinate their sensory knowledge. In doing so, they create their own bodies as the standard or measure of things. Unpacking educational practices concerning this object, I suggest that tracing the making of measuring bodies offers new insights into medical metric work. This also speaks to the growing interest in STS in sensory science, where the body is fashioned as a measuring instrument. Specifically, two interrelated contributions build on and deepen STS scholarship: first, the article shows that learning is an embodied process of inner-scaffold making; second, it suggests that the numerical objectification of sensory knowing is not a calibration to “objectivity machines” but rather to oscillations between bodies and objects that involve sensory-numerical work.


The anonymous reviewers were generous with their time and comments and suggested wonderful ways and literatures to expand and articulate my argument. Thanks to Katie Vann and Edward Hackett at Science, Technology, & Human Values for refining this even further and for suggestions for future work. I am grateful to Ike Kamphof, Andy McDowell, and John Nott who shared comments on much earlier and rougher drafts and Candida Sanchez Burmester for her intellectual and administrative input. Thanks also to the organizers and participants of the 4S 2020 online/Prague panel “Health, care (dis)abilities” for their comments and questions. As ever, I am grateful to the generosity of those I work with in my field sites, for their time and critical ideas, and for the collegial support of the rest of the Making Clinical Sense team. Finally, gratitude for my husband who shared parenting during our various pandemic lockdowns, which meant I could carve out time to write and revise.

Salad ingredients:

Pomegranate – like jaundice

Strawberries & raspberries – scarlet fever

Bananas – suturing and toenail resection practice

Peaches – pediatric examination

Grapes – robotic surgery practice

Oranges – cervical dilation lessons, skin biopsy and injection practice

Sociological contributions on digital health have acknowledged the enduring significance of sensory work in diagnosis and practices of care. Previous explorations of these digital and sensory entanglements have focused separately on healthcare providers or patients/caregivers, rarely bringing these worlds together. Our analysis, based on the collation of ethnographic fieldwork in clinics, medical schools, and homes in Australia, offers rare insights into caregiver and practitioner perspectives. We interrogate the work involved in digital-sensory becoming, as caregivers (in our case parents) learn to assign diagnostic meaning to potential childhood disease. Working with Karen Barad’s concept of ‘intra-action’, we demonstrate how diagnostic knowing is enacted between practitioners, parents, senses, and devices. We identify seven aspects of digital-sensory learning: attention to the change from normal; testing/searching for signs and symptoms; confirmation and direction from more experienced others; mimicry; analogy/metaphor; digital archiving; and reference to validated digitised signs. We found that this learning does not take place discretely in the clinic or at home. Doctors and parents both do digital-sensory work to register, co-witness, and mutually enact disease by interpreting signs and symptoms together in their caregiving intra-actions. Our article also champions collated ethnography as a methodological approach for making sense of complex assemblages in healthcare.

The first issue of the journal has a host of wonderful articles by artists and scholars interested in exploring the boundaries of modality. Many of them explore a theme close to the heart of Making Clinical Sense: bodies, and touch. They look specifically at how this is enacted in times of quarantine. You can find pieces by Dutch artist Marloeke van der Vlugt, Kate Elswit, Carey Jewitt and others, on dance, diaries, touch documentation, technology, architecture and movement amongst other fascinating topics. In my own essay I try to expand what it means to think about learning anatomy beyond the walls of the medical school, through learning anatomical Latin with everyday fabrics in the home (see my photos below).

Fabrics at home, some handmade, which correspond with fabric-based Latin anatomical terms
filter entries

Library exhibition and essay on stethoscope

by Anna Harris
December 22, 2021

Two new grants on the senses

by Anna Harris
December 20, 2021

Sensory lecture series essay

by Anna Harris
December 8, 2021