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Neuropsychological theories of synaesthesia treat the phenomenon of intersensoriality (hearing colours or seeing sounds and other such forms of cross-modal stimulation) as a very rare genetic condition which has to do with the brains of certain individuals being "cross-wired." Anthropological theories of synaesthesia interpret it as socially conditioned and culturally inflected. Both the intersensory connections and the significance of synaesthesia can be shown to vary across cultures. For example, some cultures privilege smell-hearing, others coloured hearing; some cultures place a premium on the integration of the senses, others on the separation of the senses. It is argued that the neuropsychological theory of synaesthesia needs to be radically rethought in light of all the anthropological evidence pointing to the historicity and cultural specificity of the forms of intersensoriality.
Pour citer cet article :Howes David (2011/1). Cultural Synaesthesia: Neuropsychological versus Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Intersensoriality. In Rosenthal Victor (Eds), Synesthesia and Intermodality, Intellectica, 55, (pp.139-158), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2011.1164.