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Felt Knowledge: Ecologising Art and Samani Ainu Cooking, Practice-led PhD, Photography and Text, 2018-2022


Over seven months between 2020 and 2021, I lived in Samani, Hokkaido in Japan. Learning indigenous Samani Ainu cooking across different seasons from Ms Kane Kumagai, I questioned how an art practice can explore ‘felt knowledge’ of the more-than-human world. My everyday presence with local people’s lived experiences and multi-species encounters in Samani was an act of artistic experimentation that could acquire a different way of exchanging knowledge. Across these relationships I learned how our sensory knowledge-based engagement with both people and nature can contribute to a diverse ecosystem.


This work is a record of my time in Samani and is itself a form of art, which documents and shares the process of making and translating intangibles into tangibles. In it, I seek to show how the practice of art can observe, unfold, work with, and share in a compassionate way a felt knowledge that is part of the human world. Documenting this way of living and working can unpack social, historical, political, and economic backgrounds to reveal reasons why Ms Kumagai and natural species are facing a critical moment in Samani. Recording the Samani Ainu cooking that Ms Kumagai wishes to share with future generations also resists forgetting a facet of Samaini Ainu community.

I offer values askance from social norms shaped by colonial, imperialistic, misogynistic, and capitalist modes of society. Through this body of works, I practise knowledge production supporting a compassionate, inclusive, and value-diverse approach for people, non-human species, and culture.


Professor Corin Sworn

Professor Sho Konishi

The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford


The Sasakawa Fund Scholarships

The Sakaguchi International Scholarship Foundation

Teraura-Sayoko Memorial Scholarship Foundation

British Association for Japanese Studies

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