Training the senses

Could you reproduce the sounds? Do you distinguish the difference between the various organs mentioned? And could you explain the difference?

Body percussion

What you have just heard is body percussion, a practice used in the medical examination of bodies, to gain insight in the well being of a patient. Strange, isn’t it, that scientific practices rely on something that we often consider so subjective: our senses. The subjectivity of the sensory experience makes it difficult to transmit. This is a challenge in the case of medicine students learning how to perform body percussion themselves. A medical anthropologist for example, describes the sound of sick lungs as the sound of footsteps on fresh snow. This comparison will ring a bell for students that have experienced snow, but what about those who have not? We are often unaware that senses are culturally constructed.

Not a lecture

Anna Harris, an anthropologist who studies medical and other craft practices, researched the ways in which physicians transmit sensory knowledge. On the 24th of February (tonight!), Anna will share her knowledge at the Marres series Training the Senses.

Artists find it easier to share subjective experiences then scientists. Dancers, for example, need to share their subjective experiences to make them reproducible. Dance dramaturge Peggy Olislaegers, known for her directorship of the Nederlandse Dansdagen and projects including “Performing Gender”, will be presenting on dance and the knowing body.


The presentation will not be a lecture in the conventional sense. Anna Harris and Peggy Olislaegers will involve the audience in a surprising way.

Join us tonight at 8 p.m at the Kunstkwartier 6211, Misericordeplein Maastricht.

Entrance  5€, students 3€.

By: Lucie Marraffa

Photo credit: 3 – 365 / b&w via photopin (license)


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