David Howes is professor of anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, and the director of the Concordia Sensoria Research Team (CONSERT). He holds three degrees in anthropology and two degrees in law. His main fields of research include sensory anthropology, culture and consumption, constitutional studies, and the anthropology of law.
Howes has conducted field research on the cultural life of the senses in the Middle Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea, northwest Argentina, and the southwest United States.
He recently completed an ethnographic analysis of current trends in multisensory marketing, and is presently wrapping up a study of the sensory life of things in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. He has just embarked on a new media art project in collaboration with colleague Christopher Salter that involves the creation of a chamber that plays with a wide range of sensory phenomena.
Howes’s research in law has focused on the elaboration of a methodology for resolving cases that are sparked by the increasing intermixture and friction of cultures brought on by transnational migration. In place of using culture as a defense, he advocates the development of cross-cultural jurisprudence. He has also conducted an excavation of the cultural underpinnings of the Canadian and U.S. Constitutions.
Howes is the editor of The Varieties of Sensory Experience (University of Toronto Press, 1991), Cross-Cultural Consumption (Routledge, 1996), and Empire of the Senses (Berg, 2004); the coauthor with Constance Classen and Anthony Synnott of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (Routledge, 1994); and the author of Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (University of Michigan Press, 2003).
His latest book is The Sixth Sense Reader (Berg, 2009). He is the managing editor of The Senses & Society, a journal published by Berg since 2006, as well as a co-convenor of the Sensory Studies website.