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Sensory Ethnographies for Regional Studies

Remember a couple weeks ago when the student’s posted their Humans of Kathmandu excursions? Those were just the tip of the iceberg. What the students were really working on was sensory ethnographies. The posts you see here marked as “RSSE” (Regional Studies Sensory Ethnography) are short glimpses into the lives of people the students met, interviewed, and documented with audio and visual instruments.

The students’ production process began with thematic areas of their interest such as love, family, labor, and place. From there they developed questions and prompts aimed at evoking stories from the people interviewed. Their assignment was to produce a narrative.

The students picked locations like Hanuman Dhoka and Bouddha Stupa with Intern Salim Ali. Salim took them to their location and facilitated introductions, production technique, interviews, and translation. He also helped the students gain informed consent for the subjects’ stories to be documented and shared.

The students used video and still photography as well as audio recording to produce the sensory ethnographies you see here. After their excursions, the students wrote transcripts of the interviews they wanted to produce and scripted the visual and audio clips to weave together with the stories. Hopefully they give you a look at real lives as well as the students’ contact with them.

These stories fit into a longer arc of Regional Studies assignments like the storyboard PDFs they made while in Baruwa village and sensory compositions from the beginning of the course.  They are working on their final project now. I won’t spoil that piece; but I can tell you that it is a place-based exploration of Bouddha with the theme of Refuge. Perhaps you will see the roots of that in this work.

Enjoy!