Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in
the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata.
The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to
investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals,
pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical
performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is
made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are
momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book
underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices
can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been
studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the
classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces
at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of
heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument
is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of
six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to
interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a
large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively
about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’
approach to field research and to the making of the book.
O NE often hears
the question, ‘What is an ethnographic film?’ I have
an answer to this, but the problem is that there are so many
answers. For a field that has become increasingly prominent, with
books, university programmes and festivals dedicated to it, one
would think there would be some agreement. Instead a kind of
cautious ambiguity reigns. Occasionally a scholar will argue for a
particular definition or a filmmaker will claim their own practice
as the only legitimate one, but, for
Managing multiple embodiments in the life drawing class
particularly useful at engendering the slow contemplation and critical reflexivity demanded in order to immerse oneself in the field of inquiry, and, in turn, to enable embodied learning to inform understanding. While artistic and creative practices can be – and are – combined with a range of (primarily) qualitative research methods, much recent research has embedded them within ethnographic, or auto-ethnographic, work (e.g. O’Connor, 2007 ; Paton, 2013 ). In such projects researchers have been firmly, often deeply, embedded in their practice, either as long
Data here and there
In Oakland, California, a man brushes past me as I exit my neighbourhood market. ‘Data’, his T-shirt informs me, ‘is the new bacon’.
In Kingston, Jamaica, I sit in a nondescript meeting room for a pitch
on the potential at the crossroads of agriculture and information
technology. ‘Data’, I read on the screen, ‘is the new oil’.
I hadn’t travelled to Jamaica to focus on data in particular, whether
as oil or bacon, product or substrate. I came to work within its community of technology developers and to
Byron’s ethnographic eye:
the poet among the Italians
‘It is from experience, not from Books, we ought to judge of mankind.
There is nothing like inspection, and trusting to our own senses.’1 This
aphorism appears in a letter that Byron wrote to his mother as early
as 1808, but the empiricist principle that informs it persisted as one
of the central epistemological tenets of his whole career as a writer.
Indeed, five years later, in 1813, in a letter to Annabella Milbanke,
Byron expounded on the same concept, stating that the ‘great object
-worshipping Polynesian could (and did) affirm the truth and pre-eminence of Christianity. 1 If travel encouraged self-realisation, it also produced cultural memory.
In the Anglo-Scandinavian context in particular, ethnography offered another venue for thinking about these matters. At issue, most broadly, was what the early modern period often designated race – an amalgamation of qualities and categories today distinguished by ethnicity, language, and nationality as well as racial type. Even the Victorians, Peter Mandell has suggested, ‘used a language of race that was
Data is not just the stuff of social scientific method; it is the stuff of everyday life. The presence of digital data in an ever widening range of human relationships profoundly unsettles notions of expertise for both ethnographers and data scientists alike. This collection situates digital data in broader knowledge-production practices. It asks about the kinds of social worlds that data scientists are creating as the profession coalesces, and looks at the contemporary possibilities available to both ethnographers and their participants for knowing, formatting and intervening in the world. It shows what digital data is doing to the empirical methods that sustain claims to expertise, with a particular focus on implications for ethnography. The contributors offer empirically grounded accounts of the cultures, infrastructures and epistemologies of data production, analysis and use. They examine the professionalisation of data science in a variety of national and transnational contexts. They look closely at specific data practices like archiving of environmental data, or claims-making about how software is produced. They also offer a glimpse into the new methodological and pedagogical possibilities for teaching and doing ethnography in a data-saturated world.
with sensor data
This chapter is primarily about methods. I work in Intel Labs, the
research and development organisation at Intel. Since 2007, I have
been asking research participants to collect digital data about themselves, and giving it back to them in forms designed to stimulate
conversation. I invite participants to reflect on data as matters of
concern, not matters of fact (Latour 2004), and they largely respond
in this spirit. Much like the chapter from Powell (Chapter 9 above),
and in the spirit of the broader turn
Operative ethnographies and
I report here on a deliberately naive attempt to re-count a single
number: approximately 29 million code repositories on Github at
a particular point in time (late 2015). The number appeared in a
research project primarily focused largely on transformations in the
social life of coding, programming and software development amidst
apps, clouds, virtualisation and the troubled life of code commons.
In exploring ‘how people build software’ (Github 2015), the project
explicitly sought to experiment with
An ethnography of everyday encounters with creatures
Ethnographic research offers a way of attending closely to people's ordinary, lived experience – practising the ‘art of listening’ that Les Back ( 2007 ) argues should drive the sociological endeavour. Here, I discuss the use of a neighbourhood ethnography which explored one aspect of everyday British life: people's encounters with animals. 1
Creatures of all kinds are enmeshed in ordinary human lives: people eat them, own them, live alongside them. We might take their presence for