'Sensing Danger' paper presented to the Sensing Divisions Virtual Conference, Queen's University of Belfast, 21 May 2020.

  • Angela Mazzetti (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Lazarus (1991) argued that ‘knowledge’ is an important influence in our appraisal of danger. He further specified that this ‘knowledge’ is both general (based on established information about what is dangerous) and situational (based on individual experiences of specific encounters with danger). Lazarus further noted that the two are interdependent suggesting that our reactions to specific encounters are influenced by our established knowledge of what we know to be dangerous, and in turn, what we know to be dangerous is constructed from our individual encounters with danger. Lysaght and Basten’s (2003: 225) research on spatial practices in Belfast provides interesting insights into how this knowledge base is constructed and informs collective and individual perceptions of danger in divided and violent societies. They suggest that dangerous incidents are ‘digested’ by communities and translated into local narratives which are passed on to community members to form the knowledge base on which individual assessments of danger are constructed. They further note that this knowledge base is not ‘monolithic’ but rather resembles a ‘mosaic’ of highly contextualised local knowledge that is used to inform individual appraisals of danger. In this paper I explore this ‘mosaic’ of knowledge by exploring the multisensory nature of the appraisal of danger. Drawing on my respondents’ narratives of growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, I explore how sensory information and cues (such as sights, sounds, and smells) are absorbed by individuals, informing their appraisals of dangers. I further explore how this situational knowledge is ‘passed on’ to the collective leading not only to a reinforcement of dominant beliefs about what is dangerous but also new knowledge about what is dangerous in a local context.
Period21 May 2020
Event typeConference