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The Multisensory Archive as an Ethnographic Research Method

Funding Body: Communities and Culture Network+
Role: Principal Investigator
Award: £3,950
Date: March 2015


This seed project aims to investigate the ways in which sensory ethnography and the digital archive might be synthesised, generating new fieldwork methods and new ways of knowing. The theoretical framework for this relationship has been explored by Johannes Fabian in ‘Ethnography as Commentary: Writing from the Virtual Archive’ (2008) but this project aims to generate a practical output that will test the relationship using the case study of an urban regeneration project.

This project aims to provide the network with:

  • A series of recommendations for the synthesis of sensory ethnography with the digital archive and a reflection upon the contribution digital archives might make to ethnographic fieldwork.
  • A critical evaluation of both the process and results of transforming a community space into a digital archive.
  • The opportunity to contribute to a project that provides the public with virtual access to a priviliged space of great historical and cultural importance.


This successful funding application made it possible to add interactive 360° binaural field recordings into the Experience Temple Works project. The money was used to purchase an omni-binaural microphone and to hire a freelance web developer to assist with the production of the code required to play the resulting sound files through a web browser. This very significant stage in the development of Experience Temple Works is evaluated in section 4.2 of the thesis.