RESA: Research School for Swedish Anthropology
PhD course open to: PhD students in Anthropology and related disciplines
Course title: Disabilities, Cultures, and the Vulnerable Sensorium
Dates: November 2017 – January 2018
Location: Engaging Vulnerability, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University
Course coordinator/Teaching: Stefan Sunandan Honisch
ECTS: 7.5 credits
Contact: Mats Hyvönen (

Research at the intersection of Disability Studies and Anthropology raises new questions about the vulnerable sensorium across a range of cultural traditions, encompassing verbal and non-verbal forms of sense-making, communication, and interpretation. This course draws on Disability Studies, Philosophy, and Education to uncover the aesthetic and political layers embedded in a cluster of related binary oppositions:

  1. communication/miscommunication
  2. understanding/misunderstanding, and
  3. interpretation/misinterpretation.

Objective of the course

The aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the anthropological study of interpretive and communicative practices and cultural norms that govern membership, while seeking to understand the experiences and perspectives of those excluded based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability. Drawing on Disability Studies, Philosophy, and Education this course explores which sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities are understood as "common sense" requirements for successful communication, correct understanding, and valid interpretation within diverse social, cultural, and aesthetic practices.


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Teaching activities include series of lectures and seminars. Class attendance is obligatory. The language of instruction is English.


Class attendance is obligatory.


Each week, students will submit short responses to assigned readings. Twice in the semester, students will complete sensory studies, relating readings to personal experiences at live events. Students will also prepare a ten-minute class presentation that analyzes an ethnographic video of their own choice.

Application deadline: October 20.

If you wish to apply, please submit a short description of your academic background. Applications are sent to Mats Hyvönen at no later than October 20.