Link: This American Life as Audio Ethnography


Every cultural and visual anthropologist should listen to This American Life on WBEZ/Public Radio. They have almost every episode available as a free download on Real Audio. I've been downloading them to my iPod using AudioHijack Pro and listening to the train during my commutes in Japan. Simply wonderful.

Ira Glass opens up an entirely new field of what I would call audio ethnography. Anthropologists regularly use tape recorders in the field for data collection. Anthropologists interested in folk studies and other ethnologists also use tape recorders to study ritual interaction and mythmaking. But Ira Glass goes one step further, using the tape recorder to present us with diverse and profound aspects of contemporary American culture.

Some linguistic and cultural anthropologists come close to this aspect of thick audio description, although the rules of academia limit their publications to the printed word. If you have some time, read some of Abu Lughod's work on Bedouin love poetry or Geneva Smitherman's books on African-American Vernacular English. Both women share a love for the individuality, vitality, and language of the people they talk to.

I'd love to see what the Society for Visual Anthropology thinks of the possibility of audio ethnographies. With the increase of podcasting, this is also an area of ethnography that more laypeople could get involved in although the issue of translation may limit it to only domestic audiences. Comments and suggestions are, as always, very welcome.

Monthly Archives

Sponsored Links

Powered by Movable Type 5.11

Sponsored by



Sponsored Links

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on January 7, 2005 7:00 AM.

Link: NPPA Photojournalist of the Year Awards 2004 was the previous entry in this blog.

Equipment: Murphy's Law is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

August 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30