Sensory ethnography

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In recent years, sensory ethnography has emerged in response to the way that anthropology has represented its human subjects in media, primarily through film. This new discipline, which has its roots in field recordings, sound art and ethnographic films, tries to develop a way of approaching anthropology's social concerns, maintaining its methodological imperative to clearly and accurately represent its subjects, while at the same time acknowledging that the audience for such research also makes up part of the meaning that it creates. In short, sensory ethnography is an attempt to resolve the subjective, artistic approaches needed to make effective and engaging work out of empirical data, at the same time as accurately representing its observations. (source)

"The practice of making nonfiction work which goes under the names media anthropology or sensory ethnography is based on the understanding that human meaning does not emerge only from language; it engages with the ways in which our sensory experience is pre-or non-linguistic, and part of our bodily being in the world. It takes advantage of the fact that our cognitive awareness – conscious as well as unconscious – consists of multiple strands of signification, woven of shifting fragments of imagery, sensation and malleable memory. Works of sensory media are capable of echoing or reflecting or embodying these kinds of multiple simultaneous strands of signification." (Ernst Karel, interviewed in Earroom)




Papers and articles

See also[edit]

Anthropology, Field recording, Sonic ecology, Media ecology