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8 Leiden Anthropologists jointly publish new guide for Audiovisual and Digital Ethnography

On 30 November 2021 the book 'Audiovisual and Digital Ethnography: A Practical and Theoretical Guide' was published by Routledge. The book resulted from eight anthropologists of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology joining forces: Cristina Grasseni, Bart Barendregt, Erik de Maaker, Federico de Musso, Andrew Littlejohn, Marianne Maeckelbergh, Metje Postma and Mark R. Westmoreland. The guide details how audiovisual and digital anthropology have become intertwined, and provides hands on tools on how to conduct such research yourself. The aim is to help fellow scholars in social sciences and humanities, as well as affiliated disciplines, to utilise the potential which audiovisual and digital research methodologies can offer. Five questions about this new guide.

What is the history of the book Audiovisual and Digital Ethnography: A Practical and Theoretical Guide?

'The opportunity of writing this book came with an invitation from Routledge back in 2017 to Cristina Grasseni to write a Handbook of Visual Anthropology. Our institute has a long history of innovation in Visual Anthropology. More recently, we’ve begun to experiment with new forms of cutting-edge multimodal anthropology in both our research and teachingAfter some reflections, we decided to co-author a book with all the CADS colleagues who practiced audio, visual and digital ethnography at the time of writing.'

How long did it take to write the guide?

'We met as a group of co-authors just before Christmas 2019 and proceeded to submit the book proposal, which was externally peer reviewed, then drafted the chapters, each of which was peer-reviewed by two other co-authors. Colleague Jan Jansen generously copy-edited the manuscript and then we went into production. Of course, the practice that informs the book has a longer history. For example, Andrew Littlejohn traces the genesis of his chapter to 2015, when he spent days recording the disaster regions of northeastern Japan with a massive, 5,1 surround-sound microphone. Mark Westmoreland began introducing drawing exercises in several of his classes around 2017 and recognized the profound impact it had on students, so wanted to grapple with a stronger understanding of how graphic forms are situated within the discipline.'

What is the aim of the book?

'There are many excellent works on the more theoretical dimensions of multimodal and visual anthropology. But we felt that the field could benefit from an up to date volume putting those theories in dialogue with hands on, practical skills trainingAt Leiden we have an expanding community of practice that cultivates multimodality, visual ethnography, and digitalization in their research and teaching. The book represents and promotes this unique concentration of skills and specialties that we can offer as part of CADS signature methodology.'

For whom is this book?

The book targets Masters and Bachelor students and those teaching them. It covers topics including skilled vision, sonic ethnography, graphic anthropology, multimodal anthropology, fieldwork with a camera, observational film, interactive documentary, digital ethnography, and data management. Each chapter can be read individually or as part of the whole book, which is envisaged as a ‘practical and theoretical’ guide. Each chapter introduces the topic vis-à-vis key literature and offers exercises or in-depth instructions and tips for further reading/viewings.

What is next?

‘There’s going to be a book website with additional audiovisual contents and links.’


Get the book!

The book 'Audiovisual and Digital Ethnography: A Practical and Theoretical Guide' is available via the website of Routledge

Table of Contents

1. Audiovisual and Digital Ethnography at Leiden

Cristina Grasseni, Bart Barendregt, Erik de Maaker, Federico De Musso, Andrew Littlejohn, Marianne Maeckelbergh, Metje Postma, and Mark R. Westmoreland

2. Learning to See - Cristina Grasseni

3. Sonic Ethnography - Andrew Littlejohn

4. Graphic Anthropology: A Foundation for Multimodality - Mark R. Westmoreland

5. Dialoguing Events: An Audiovisual Toolkit for Extended Participatory Observation - Erik de Maaker

6. Observational Cinema as Process, Skill and Method - Metje Postma

7. Interactive Documentaries - Federico De Musso

8. Digital Ethnography, or ‘Deep Hanging Out’ in the Age of Big Data - Bart Barendregt

9. Navigating Conflicting Instruments of Data Morality - Marianne Maeckelbergh

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