Exploring Sensory Memories

Acting Lessons for Anthropologists

  • Cassis Kilian Johannes Gutenberg University


Lee Strasberg and other acting teachers developed sense memory exercises that teach an artistic re-enactment method to explore the interplay of sensory perception and emotional memory.

Apparently, secondary sensory stimuli often trigger flashbacks for traumatised people. From my experience as an actress, I learned that the sense memory method is a controlled triggering of emotional memory that functions in the same way. Many anthropologists consider sensory experiences and emotions a relevant topic, but how can we teach students to deal with these phenomena?

After looking at sense memory exercises against the backdrop of neuroscientific findings, I will consider why and how we should introduce them when teaching anthropology.

Keywords: memory, senses, neuroscience, teaching method, re-enactment, qualitative methodology