Ethnography at Borough Market

Borough SignageI arrived with my students at Borough Market on a grey day, a London day. However, the oldest freestanding outdoor market in northern Europe is anything by grey. One’s senses explode with color, if we but let them. And that is the ethnographic task I set forth for my students.

In pairs they worked their way through the market. Sunglasses pulled down as they squeeze their eyes shut, trusting their partner to guide them safely through the maze of stalls, as if blind.

Borough foodRound one, explore Borough with your nose. Let every scent come to you without the bias of sight. Let each aroma take you to that emotional sweet-spot hidden somewhere in your brains. Describe with your heart what you smell with your nose.

Round two, explore Borough with your ears. Switch roles and be guided, blindly, along a different path. Let each sound take you to that same emotional sweet-spot hidden somewhere in your brains. Describe with your heart what you hear with your ears.

Finally, I tasked them with taking their sensory experiences and shaping them into insights that focused deeply on one of their senses, a sense they perhaps too often relegate to the back of their brain. Visit the class blog and see what found sounds and smells they were able to observe. See what their noses and ears stimulated from deep within their hearts.

Jean

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