Spatial Montage and Multimedia Ethnography: Using Computers to Visualise Aspects of Migration and Social Division Among a Displaced Community

Judith Aston


This paper discusses how computer-based techniques of spatial montage can be used to visualise aspects of migration and social division among a displaced community. It is based on an ongoing collaboration between the author and the anthropologist, Wendy JAMES. The work is based on a substantial archive of ethnographic photographs, audio, cine and video recordings collected by JAMES in the Sudan/Ethiopian borderlands over four decades. Initially recording the way of life of several minority peoples, she was later able to follow their fortunes during the repeated war displacements and separations they suffered from the 1980s onwards. The recordings document work rhythms, dance, song and storytelling, music and other sensory rich performances alongside spoken memories of past events. The research is developing spatial montage techniques to draw comparisons across time, between multiple points of view, and between recordings of events and spoken memories of these events. It is argued that these techniques can be used to facilitate direct engagement with ethnographic recordings, creating multimedia experiences which can flexibly integrate fieldwork data into academic discourse. In so doing it is proposed that these techniques offer new tools to enhance the analysis and understanding of issues relating to migration and social division.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1002361


practice-based research; visual anthropology; sensory ethnography; fieldwork recordings; academic discourse; multimedia computing; spatial montage; fluid interfaces; narrative exploration

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Copyright (c) 2010 Judith Aston

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