Concordia University

David Howes

Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Office: S-H 1125-1 
Henry F. Hall Building,
1455 De Maisonneuve W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2148
Website(s): David Howes
Sensory Studies
Sixth Sense Abcderium
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David Howes is Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director of the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is also the Director of the Concordia Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (CISSC) and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law, McGill University.

Beginning in 1990, David has conducted field research on the cultural life of the senses in Papua New Guinea, Northwestern Argentina, and the Southwestern United States. His research projects over the past 10 years have ranged from exploring the sensory life of things in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford to investigating historic and contemporary trends in multisensory marketing in the USA and Canada (in collaboration with Bianca Grohmann of the Department of Marketing) and from examining judicial constructions of “culture” to designing performative sensory environments (together with Chris Salter of the Department of Design Art). He is currently directing a project entitled “Law and the Regulation of the Senses: Explorations in Sensori-Legal Studies.”

David is the editor of, among other works, The Varieties of Sensory Experience (Toronto, 1991), Cross-Cultural Consumption (Routledge, 1996), Empire of the Senses (Berg, 2004) and A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age, 1920-2000 (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is the co-author (with Constance Classen and Anthony Synnott) of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (Routledge, 1994), and (also with ConstanceClassen) Ways of Sensing: Understanding the Senses in Society (Routledge, 2013). He is also the author of Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (Michigan, 2003).

David is the general editor of the Sensory Formations series from Berg and the new Sensory Studies series from Bloomsbury,as well as a founding editor of the journal The Senses and Society.  He also curates a number of websites, including

Research Interests

Sensory Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Legal Anthropology, Constitutional Studies, Popular Culture, Culture and Consumption

Teaching activities

Law and Society

Culture and Commerce

Art, Aesthetics and Anthropology

New Directions in Anthropological Research



David Howes (ed.), A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age, 1920-2000, London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014

David Howes & Constance Classen, Ways of Sensing: Understanding the Senses in Society, London and New York: Routledge, 2014

Davd Howes (ed.), The Sixth Sense Reader, Oxford and New York: Berg, 2009

David Howes (ed.), Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader. Oxford and New York: Berg, 2004 

David Howes, Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social TheoryAnn Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2003

David Howes, ed., Cross-Cultural Consumption: Global Markets, Local Realities, London and New York: Routledge, 1996

Constance Classen, David Howes & Anthony Synnott,  Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell, London and New York: Routledge, 1994.

   - Tokyo: Chikuma-Shobo, 1997 (Japanese trans. by Masahiro Tokita)

   - Seoul: Hyunsil Cultural Studies, 2002 (Korean trans.)

   - Athens: Plethron, 2006 (Greek trans.)

David Howes (ed.), The Varieties of Sensory Experience: A Sourcebook in the Anthropology of the Senses, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.

Special issues

David Howes (ed.), Sensory Museology, 9(3) The Senses and Society, 2014

Devon Hinton, David Howes and Laurence Kirmayer  (eds.), Medical Anthropology of Sensations, 45(2) Transcultural Psychiatry, 2008

David Howes & Jean-Sébastien Marcoux (dirs.), La culture sensible, 30(3) Anthropologie et Sociétés, 2006

David Howes (ed.) Cross-Cultural Jurisprudence/La jurisprudence transculturelle, 20(1) The Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 2005

David Howes (ed.), Law and Popular Culture, 10(2) The Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 1995

David Howes (dir.), Frontières culturelles et marchandises, 18(3) Anthropologie et Sociétés, 1994

David Howes (dir.), Les cinq sens, 14(2) Anthropologie et Sociétés, 1990 

Current research projects

“Law and the Regulation of the Senses: Explorations in Sensori-Legal Studies”  funded by the Social Sciences and  Humanities Research Council of Canada  (SSHRC), 2015-2019. Principal Investigator: David Howes

“Evaluating Methods of Aesthetic Enquiry across Disciplines” funded by the Leverhulme Trust, 2015-2018.  Principal Investigator: Dee Reynolds (University of Manchester)

“Sensory Entanglements: New Cross-Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Directions in the Creation and Evaluation of Multi-Sensorial Environments,” funded by the SSHRC, 2014-2018. Principal Investigator: Chris Salter (Design Art, Concordia).

“Haptic Fields”  funded by Fonds Québécois de la Recherche–Société et Culture (FRQSC), 2014-2017. Principal Investigator: Chris Salter (Design Art, Concordia). 

“Mediations of Sensation,” using alternative cultural models of the senses as frameworks for the design of new media/performative sensory environments funded  by FRQSC, 2010-2014. Principal Investigator : Chris Salter (Design Art, Concordia)

2010-14   “Bringing Culture into the Domain of Law,” a critical analysis of the  judicialization of the culture concept, funded by the SSHRC, 2010-2014. Principal Investigator: René Provost (Faculty of Law, McGill) 

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