Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab

Foreign Parts

J.P. Sniadecki, Véréna Paravel
France, USA | OmeU
Q&A with:
J.P. Sniadecki
A hidden enclave in the shadow of the New York Mets’ new sta­di­um, the neigh­bor­hood of Wil­lets Point is an indus­tri­al zone fated for demo­li­tion. Filled with scrap­yards and auto … read more

Kale and Kale

Stephanie Spray
USA 2007 | 51 Min. | OmeU
The film explores the subtle every­day inter­ac­tions and rela­tion­ships among an uncle and nephew, both nick­named “Kale,” or “black one,” and their fam­i­lies in rural Nepal. The roles they play … read more
Q&A with:
David MacDougall, Henning Engelke, J.P. Sniadecki
Creative Ethnography of Beings and Things The films by Judith and David Mac­Dougall have had a deci­sive impact on the work of the Sen­so­ry Ethnog­ra­phy Lab. Lucien Cas­taing-Taylor, the founder … read more

Sweetgrass

USA 2009 | 115 Min. | OmU
Q&A with:
David MacDougall, Ilker Çatak, Xingzheng Jin

Sheep – as far as the eye can see. The anthro­pol­o­gists and film­mak­ers Lucien Cas­taing-Taylor and Ilisa Bar­bash spent three sum­mers doc­u­ment­ing sheep farm­ing at one of the last family-owned ranch­es in the Absaro­ka-Beartooth Moun­tains. A sheep eats, and we see and hear it chew and the tinkle of the bell around its neck. Then it dis­cov­ers the camera and fixes its eyes on us, freez­ing the image. Now all we hear is the wind. Orig­i­nal sound of this kind helps lend pre­ci­sion to every shot. During shear­ing we can actu­al­ly feel the phys­i­cal exer­tion of the shep­herds and the dazed state of the sheep. The order of the gaze in space ana­lyzes the rela­tion­ship of a new­born lamb to the herd, to its mother, and to the shep­herd. Then a thou­sand sheep push through a gate or follow the trail of grass left by a feed­ing machine, and it has the effect of a crowd scene in an epic film. By the time we have reached the top of the moun­tain and the herder calls his mother com­plain­ing of knee pain, our image of the lonely shep­herd has been replaced by that of the cowboy. In scenes like this and in the coarse humor of the ranch­ers as they handle the ani­mals during brand­ing lies the story of free-range sheep farm­ing in the Amer­i­can West, a story that began in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry and is now slowly coming to an end.

The iron ministry

Hamid Jafari, J.P. Sniadecki
USA 2014 | 82 Min. | OmeU
Q&A with:
J.P. Sniadecki
P. Sni­adec­ki, who lived in China for a long time and trav­elled all over the coun­try by train, con­densed the results of these ethno­graph­ic excur­sions into a mul­ti­far­i­ous and col­or­ful … read more