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.
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.
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
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
This book takes a body of ethnographic data collected in 2001-2, during a year's fieldwork at the Bank of Scotland (BoS) and HBOS, and revisits it from the perspective of the 2014-16 period. It explores the tension between the 'ethnographic present' of the author's original research and the unavoidable alteration of perspective on that data that the economic crisis has created. The original research had been planned to take place in the BoS but in 2001, before the research began, BoS had merged with the Halifax to form HBOS. The book provides a long-term historical perspective on BoS/HBOS, from inception to the 2008 financial crisis, and then a consideration of the nature of historical explanation, under the rubric of 'theory'. The main attempts to explain the proximate causes of the 2008 crisis, as well as more encompassing political economic arguments about the trajectory and dynamics of capitalism are examined. The concept of 'culture' as applied to both national groups, Scots and English, and organizations, BoS and Halifax, are also dealt with. The book examines other governing concepts such as organisational change in the business world and social change, identity and the way Scottish and English experience their own personhood, and comparative nature of ethnographic research. The conclusion reviews and draws together the themes of the book, returning to the overarching question of historical perspective and explanation.
Through an ethnographic study of the Barefoot College, an internationally renowned non-governmental development organisation (NGO) situated in Rajasthan, India, this book investigates the methods and practices by which a development organisation materialises and manages a construction of success. Paying particular attention to the material processes by which success is achieved and the different meanings that they act to perform, this book offers a timely and novel approach to how the world of development NGOs works. It further touches upon the general discrediting of certain kinds of expertise, moving the book beyond an anthropology of development to raise wider questions of general interest. The author argues that the College, as a heterotopia and a prolific producer of various forms of development media, achieves its success through materially mediated heterotopic spectacles: enacted and imperfect utopias that constitute the desires, imaginings and Otherness of its society. Founded by the charismatic figure of Bunker Roy, the Barefoot College has become a national and global icon of grassroots sustainable development. With a particular focus on the Barefoot College’s community-managed, solar photovoltaic development programme, this book considers the largely overlooked question of how it is that an NGO achieves a reputation for success.
Notes on developing a photo-ethnographic practice in Basilicata
There are a number of reasons why photo-ethnography, understood as ‘the use of still photography as a means of … presenting ethnographic information and insight’ (Wright 2018 : 1), is not nearly as developed in both practice and theoretical reflection as ethnographic documentary (Edwards 1997 : 53). As remarked by Wright, while most ethnographers carry and use a camera during fieldwork, the production of photo-ethnographies is very limited. A few ethnographers have, in the past, tried to develop arguments visually by making extensive use of photographs in
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
Towards a sonic ethnography of the Maggio festival in Accettura
Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri
such event in Italy.
Over many years, scholars, photographers and filmmakers have provided a number of perspectives on the festival. However, in this chapter, which is based on long-term team research led by Scaldaferri since 2002 (Scaldaferri and Feld 2019 ), we argue that the sonic aspect of the festival has often been overlooked – perhaps precisely because of its striking visual characteristics. A sonic ethnography, on the other hand, allows the detection of mechanisms at work during the festival that were previously unnoticed. Importantly, it also highlights