On Rocks, Walks, and Talks In West Africa: Cultural Categories and an Anthropology of the Senses



In southeastern Ghana, among Anlo-Ewe-speaking people, a five-senses model (of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell) has little relevance for theorizing about how we know what we know. Instead, Anlo people invoke a domain of experience called seselelame (literally "feel-feel-at-flesh-inside") that links sensation to emotion, disposition, and vocation. This article explores cultural models that govern sensory and other immediate bodily experiences in Anlo-Ewe worlds. Language analysis is interwoven with cultural interpretations of walking and talking, and attention is given to child socialization strategies that kinesthetically instantiate Anlo-Ewe moral codes.