During the 2017 summer workshop, Bucknell faculty from a range of disciplines discussed ways to incorporate ethnographic work into course assignments. The workshop introduced faculty to basic approaches to digital and video ethnography, demonstrated tools such as mobile smartphone rigs for conducting fieldwork and producing ethnographic films, and brought in three outside speakers from other institutions who discussed their work in digital and video ethnography.
Jennie Gubner is Visiting Lecturer of Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Her work has focused on music as a form of community engagement and a vehicle for social transformation in Argentina, Southern Italy, and the United States. She is interested in participatory music making practices, intergenerational music scenes, and most recently, the role of individualized music and creative aging in the lives of elders with dementia & Alzheimer’s.
In her presentation she discussed her work in Argentina as well as her more recent research setting up a service learning/filmmaking course in which students created individualized iPod playlists for elders with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In this course, she teaches undergraduate students to use film as a sensory ethnographic mode through which to research the effects of music on elders with dementia.
Beyond filmmaking she also teaches students to use these films to raise further public awareness about the importance of non-pharmaceutical and creative approaches to dementia care.
Below, view one of Dr. Gubner’s films, A Common Place. Her other works can be viewed on her website.
Natalie Underberg-Goode’s work in digital ethnography illustrates how technology can be used to tell compelling stories about people in a way that matters to them. An example is her work on the PeruDigital project (below).
In her book Digital Ethnography: Anthropology, Narrative, and New Media, co-authored with the late Elayne Zorn, she argues that “anthropologists themselves may be the best prepared to understand the impact of digital media on culture and to use their expertise in ethnographic methods to influence the use and even design of new technologies.”
Dr. Underberg-Goode advocates the use of participatory design in ethnography. This means encouraging communities and individuals to work together with ethnographers to represent themselves in the ways they want to be represented.
Jeff Soyk is a “media artist” whose work spans film, web design, and digital storytelling. He is a Fellow of the MIT Open Documentary Lab and works as a creative director at MIT’s STL Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab.
From his website: “Soyk’s passion for meaningful stories and multiple mediums has led him to interactive documentary, as he recognizes the potential to create engaging experiences with a positive influence.”
His work combines the intimate, close-level detail of conventional ethnography with the aesthetic unity and emotional gravity of arthouse films.
Click here to view “Hollow”, an immersive i-doc experience. Soyk served as art director and web designer on the Hollow project. Below, view his talk from the workshop.