At VU University Amsterdam, we have recently opened a new centre for the cross-disciplinary study of the emotions and senses, ACCESS for short. The centre is the initiative of cultural historians (myself included) and an anthropologist. We hope to bring together academics from many more disciplines to exchange ideas on the study of the emotions and senses. The interdisciplinary symposium on the Transmission of Emotions that I am organizing on 10 February is one of the ways in which we aspire to stimulate cross-disciplinary activities, such as applications for funding of interdisciplinary projects.
The ACCESS ‘mission statement’ reads:
The Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies provides a platform for cooperation between scholars from the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences.
Recently the scholarly interest in the emotions and the senses has gained momentum through the ‘affective turn’ informing many new studies in different disciplines. ACCESS aims to enhance this momentum, creating an interdisciplinary platform between historians, cultural anthropologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers and other scholars interested in the cultural production and expression of the emotions and the operations of the senses.
Our research rests on the presumption that both the experience and expression of the emotions and the senses are culturally informed. Different communities shape different sensory and emotional ‘regimes’. To quote Oliver Sacks: ‘culture tunes our neurons’.