Sensory ethnography and film interpretation: sociological readings of historical archives
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractRecent work in sensory ethnography, especially as applied to the study of mobilities makes extensive use of video recording as a means of making field notes. A body of literature has built up around these mobile methodologies and the practices of interpretation connected with using this data. Drawing on these approaches to mobile methods and visual research the author undertook a six month study to explore the sensory experiences of cycle riders as urban (and peri-urban) travellers. At the same time, investigations were undertaken using conventional analyses of photographic and written archive materials to locate current practices in historical contexts. During the course of this investigation it became clear that there were also film documentary sources that could inform this research. This then raised a question as to whether existing historical film sources could be “read” and interpreted using the same analytical frameworks deployed for the interpretation of the video field notes captured in the investigation of sensory experiences. This chapter outlines the methodological procedures involved in the analysis and the result of initial attempts to deploy these in relation to historical sources. By connecting approaches developed in the context of digital recording of mobile experience to extant analogue film sources it considers whether such connections can enable a richer understanding of historical mobile subjects. While visual analysis suggests that film-makers’ intentions, especially in framing and editing their subject matter, are always inescapable, interpretative practices applied to digital recordings of public space today suggest there may be value in considering incidental “background” mobilities in historical documentary film and incidentally explains how a critical sociologist comes to be developing historical research tools.
CitationCox, Peter (2019) Sensory ethnography and film interpretation: sociological readings of historical archives in David Turner (ed.) Transport and its Place in History: Making the Connections Abingdon: Routledge
DescriptionThis is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Transport and its Place in History: Making the Connections on 19th June 2019, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Transport-and-its-Place-in-History-Making-the-Connections/Turner/p/book/9780815394174
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