Link: Audio-ethnography

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Longtime readers of this blog know that I've been intrigued by the notion of audio-ethnography for a while, being inspired by Ira Glass' This American Life. I've been stumped over how to make this a more powerful cross-cultural ethnographic tool because of the issue of translation, since much of the power of audio-ethnography is in the directness of people's voices. Listen to ThisAmericanLife with headphones and you'll see what I mean. is one step in that direction, although I would call it audio-tourism rather than audio-ethnography. It consists of fieldrecordings made in Vietnam in 1998. It's mostly what A/V technicians call wild sound (recordings of the background ambience) but it does give you a sense of what it is like to be there. It reminds me of Sarah Peebles' work in Tokyo (see examples here and here).

If anyone has any examples of audio-ethnography with translation, I'd love to hear it.


I too have been inspired by This American Life but have yet to purchase the equipment necessary. Individual voices are far more dimensional than my writing (even when it's good) I enjoy reading your blog very much, by the way, thank you.

Hi Karen,

Long time lover of your site and now your blog. I think that your link to This Quiet American caused her too much traffic, I think her site is down.

I've been trying to get your feed to work with google's homepage feeder, but it never works. Do you have any ideas about that? There's a link on feedburner to feed it into google, but it always says that the feed isn't available after I grab your feed.

Anyway, thanks for the blog.


I'm working on that translation question...

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on February 10, 2006 8:26 AM.

Link: ADD helps in the IT field (and academia) was the previous entry in this blog.

Info: Where to stay in Tokyo for a month or two is the next entry in this blog.

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