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Ethnographic Listening: Talk with Ernst Karel & Andrew Littlejohn

April 23 @ 19:15 - 20:45

Event Description  

Anthropological documentary experts Andrew Littlejohn and Ernst Karel discuss their area of expertise and the role of sound in ethnographic film. Later in the evening, there’s a chance to see Expedition Content, Karel’s critical look at the anthropologist and his subject.  

Following this exchange of thoughts, Karel’s film Expedition Content (2020, with Veronika Kusumaryati) will screen: a critical look at the ethnographic classic Dead Birds (1963), about the Dani people of Papua, western New Guinea. The latter film was directed by Robert Gardner, head of Harvard University’s Film Study Center. Dead Birds screens in Eye on 12 March. Expedition Content explores the dynamics between anthropologists and their subjects, as well as the relationship between sound and imagination. The screen remains almost entirely dark; we hear a montage of audio recordings made by Michael Rockefeller, a member of Gardner’s expedition to study the Dani people in 1961 who disappeared without trace. A separate ticket is required for Expedition Content.

This event is presented in collaboration with the EYE Film Museum.  


Ernst Karel is a musician, anthropologist, phonographer and former manager of SEL, the Sensory Ethnography Lab (Harvard University) set up by Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The latter now features, together with Véréna Paravel, in the exhibition in Eye.  

Andrew Littlejohn (Leiden University and SEL alumnus) will talk to Karel via live stream about the phenomenon of ‘sonic ethnography’: the study of peoples by means of audio recordings. Littlejohn is an associate professor affiliated to Leiden University’s Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology.


April 23
19:15 - 20:45
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EYE Film Museum


EYE Film Museum
IJpromenade 1,
Amsterdam, 1031 KT Netherlands
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