Crosscutting the cultural, political, and epistemological coordinates of health, sense has been hiding in plain sight: elemental to organic life yet an elusive object of humanistic study. For much of the twentieth century, neuroscience dominated the study of sense. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the formation of the interdisciplinary field of sensory studies served to push back against dominant scientific accounts of sense as a universal phenomenon reducible to the brain and to instead demonstrate that sense is a lived experience—and therefore historically conditioned, culturally variable, and socially constructed. The value-laden contexts of how and why we perceive shape what we perceive (Howes 2003). This critical reconfiguration of sense furnishes key insights into how the intricacies of bodily life, living, and livelihood are managed and imagined at the microlevel of perception and feeling. Following the Western philosophical and scientific genealogy of sense can illuminate the colonial logics that historically and continuously govern the uneven distribution of humanity and health. Only by decolonizing sense might we forge a new “sense” of health organized around the in_ter_dependence, rather than independence, of all bodies and things.

This essay may be found on page 183 of the printed volume.

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