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Dissertational Project Synopis by Ragna Winniewski/ PhD candidate/ MSCA Fellow/ University of Cologne/ Vita Salute San Raffaele University Milan

The Phenomenology of Synaesthesia in Embodied Cognition and Therapy (working title)

In my research project, I analyse how synaesthetical (multisensory) concepts of sense perception are discussed in strands of phenomenology, medical anthropology and cognitive sciences and how these concepts are applied in multisensory therapy forms.
According to Merleau-Ponty, our perception is per se synaesthetical but we have unlearned this multiple yet synchronic way of sensing the world. On the other hand, in contemporary theories of embodied cognition sense perception is addressed as a highly complex and interactive process between the human body (subject) and the outer material world (object). It is rather a multisensory process involving a multitude of sense modalities. Synaesthesia, even though it ranges in a relatively disparate spectrum from an innate neurobiological process of sensory integration to being a pathological sensory dysfunction, is perhaps the epitome phenomenon of multisensory perception challenging traditional concepts of perception and cognition. However, a synaesthetic (amodal) understanding of perception stands in opposition to traditional sensory gender binaries and hierarchies. That is why, I aim to debate how certain ways to read and understand synaesthesia (e.g. as phenomenologies of perception) can break with these traditions and brings forward a paradigm shift (“sensory turn”) towards a more inclusive and integrated approach within both theory and practice of bodily sense perception.
By addressing empirical case studies, I aim to look at multisensory therapy forms and how they affect the body-mind relation in dementia patients. I thereby address an urgent question of the ethical and political dimension of selfhood in conjunction with sensorial impairments within society and within integrated healthcare programmes. Clinical studies on multisensory therapy show enhancement in dementia patients' well-being. My research will contribute to the field of applied phenomenology by fostering the dialogue between disciplines and by reframing a simple body-mind or nature-culture divide.
2021-2022: VW-foundation research fellow in the DFG-FOR 2686 programme „Resilience in Religion and Spirituality“ (lead by Prof. Dr. Cornelia Richter, University of Bonn) within the T3 project “Empathy and Resilience” (Prof. Dr. Thiemo Breyer, University of Cologne).
2018-2021: MSCA fellow in the a.r.t.e.s. EUmanities programme. In her doctoral research project Ragna focuses on synaesthesia as a multisensory concept in theories of perception and therapy practice aiming to reframe a phenomenology of the bodily senses and their embeddedness claiming a sensory turn towards wellbeing. Her project is supervised by Prof. Dr. Thiemo Breyer (University of Cologne), Prof. Francesca De Vecchi and Prof.ssa Roberta De Monticelli (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan). In addition, she has been visiting fellow at the Laboratory of Experimental Phenomenology (LabExp) at the University of Trento, from November 2018 to February 2019.
Main research interests: theories of perception and cognition, phenomenology, cultural and social practices within the medical humanities, anthropology, psychopathology.

Short Biography
Ragna Winniewski studied Applied Cultural Sciences and Educational Sciences at Leuphana University (Germany) followed by an Erasmus Mundus M.A. degree in “Crossways in Cultural Narratives” which she obtained from three different European universities: Nova Lisboa in Lisbon (Portugal), University of Bergamo (Italy), and Sheffield University (UK). In her dissertation, she debated a new sensory aesthetics contextualising and debating traditional and contemporary concepts of multisensory perception. During her studies, Ragna has worked as language tutor at Bergamo and Sheffield University, as free-lance interpreter as well as TEFL-teacher in Italy.

Contact: r.winniewski(at)uni-koeln.de
 
Presentations
“Relation Self: An Embodied and Meaning-Centred Account of Resilience in Dementia”, June 16, 2022, 3. Jahrestagung der DFG-FOR 2686 „Resilienz in Religion und Spiritualität“/ Ambivalenzen in Trost, Hoffnung und Dankbarkeit, University of Bonn. 
„The Role of Synaesthesia and its Related Phenomena within Embodied Cognition Theories and Therapy“, February 2nd, 2022, Phänomenologische Werkstatt, Forschungskolloquium für Promovierende und Gastwissenschaftler*innen organised by Prof. Dr. Thiemo Breyer and Dr. Erik Norman Dziza-Ohlsen, University of Cologne. 
„Atmosphäre, Synästhesie, Resonanz: phänomenologische und therapeutische Perspektiven“, April 22 – 24, 2021, Transdisziplinärer Workshop „Wahrnehmung und Resonanz: Demenz in Theorie und Praxis“, a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne (online).
 „Atmosphäre und Synästhesie: eine theoretische und praxisorientierte Annäherung an leibliches Empfinden bei Demenz“, March 5, 2021, 5. Jahrestagung „Interdisziplinärer Arbeitskreis Phänomenologie und Soziologie“ der DGS/ „Sensibilitäten, Gefühle, Stimmungen-Phänomenologische Perspektiven auf die Soziologie der Affekte“, University of Bonn (online).

 “Phenomenology of Perception: Synaesthesia as a Concept for Multisensory Therapy”, Phenomenology of Mind seminar by Prof. Dr. Elisabetta Sacchi, 13.06.2019, Vita Salute San Raffaele University, Milan.
“The Role of Expression in Plessner‘s Philosophy and its Relevance for Multisensory Perception and Social Cognition”, April 27, 2019, 17th Annual Conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology, University of Copenhagen.
“A New Phenomenology of the Senses and the Sensory Turn to Wellbeing”, September 21, 2017, Cologne Summer School of Interdisciplinary Anthropology (CSIA) “The Phenomenality of Material Things: Praxis – Genesis – Cognition” at a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne, University of Cologne.
“Phenomenology of the Senses – a Multisensory Approach toward Wellbeing”, June 1, 2017, Symposium “Medicine and the Senses”, University of Leeds.


Publications
Winniewski, R. (2022). Disrupted Intercorporeality and Embodiedness in Dementia Care During the COVID-19 Crisis. Puncta Journal of Critical Phenomenology, 5.1, 79–96.
Winniewski, R. & E. N. Dzwiza-Ohlsen, (fc. 2022). The Lived Body in E-Motion: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Dementia Diseases, in: F. Brencio (ed.) Phenomenology, Neuroscience and Clinical Practice - Transdisciplinary Experiences, Berlin: Springer.
Winniewski, Ragna (forthcoming 2023): Atmosphärisches und Synästhetisches Erleben: eine theoretische und praxisorientierte Annäherung an das leiblich-affektive Selbst bei Demenz, in: Peters C., Strothmann M., von Stetten M. (eds.), Sensibilitäten, Gefühle, Stimmungen: Phänomenologische Perspektiven auf die Soziologie der Affekte, Berlin: Springer.

Dzwiza-Ohlsen, E. N. & R. Winniewski (eds.); (fc. 2023). Wahrnehmung und Resonanz: Demenz in Theorie und Praxis, in T. Breyer (ed.), Schriften zur Phänomenologie und Anthropologie, app. Vol. 7, Darmstadt: WBG. 
 
Workshop and Conference Organisation
„Wahrnehmung und Resonanz: Demenz in Theorie und Praxis“, Transdisziplinärer Workshop, a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne (online), 22-24 April, 2021, (co-organised).
“Transdisciplinary Approaches to Dementia and Aging, Monthly Lecture Series of the Phenomenology of Dementia and Aging Network (co-organised).
 
 Public Outreach
Since 2021: Co-founder of the network of Transdisciplinary Research on Dementia and Ageing („Transdisziplinäre Demenz- und Alternsforschung”) at a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne/Husserl Archives Cologne/NAR, organising a monthly reading group and lecture series with peer researchers and practitioners and anyone interested in the subject matter.

 

 

Cover photo: Primary Cortical Neurons (Source: http://epilepsyresearch.de/SchochLab/home) // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad


a.r.t.e.s. EUmanities has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 713600.

Details:
Call: H2020-MSCA-COFUND-2015 | Proposal: 713600 – artes EUmanities
CORDIS: http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/203182_de.html