Sonic ethnography

Identity, heritage and creative research practice in Basilicata, southern Italy

By Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri

Sonic ethnography


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5200-8
  • Pages: 200
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: November 2020
  • BIC Category: Anthropology, TRAVEL / Europe / Italy, PHOTOGRAPHY / Photoessays & Documentaries, MUSIC / Ethnomusicology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Italy, The arts / Folk & traditional music, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Society & social sciences / Anthropology
  • Series: Anthropology, Creative Practice and Ethnography


Basilicata is a region of southern Italy that was the setting for ethnographic research during the 1950s by Ernesto De Martino, Friedrich Friedmann, Edward C. Banfield, amongst others. Sixty years on, many of the practices canonised in these classic studies live on in reconfigured ways, in which heritage, identity politics and mediatisation play important roles. Sonic ethnography applies to this contemporary frame the most recent perspectives on the anthropology of sound and photographic research, to explore situations as different as the soundscape of tree rituals, the management of sound, the role of the church in annual festivals, the afterlife of ethnographic research in heritage politics and recorded media among migrant communities. The book brings to light how in Basilicata sound plays a central role in the performance of local identities. The volume also contributes innovative insights on doing ethnography in sound and photography.


1 When the trees resound: towards a sonic ethnography of the Maggio festival in Accettura
2 Soundmasks in resounding places: listening to the Campanaccio of San Mauro Forte
3 Sonic devotion and sonic control: struggles for power over a festival soundscape
4 Sounds and images of nostalgia: the revival of Lucanian wheat festivals
5 Voices across the ocean: recorded memories and diasporic identity in the archive of Giuseppe Chiaffitella
6 Doing research in sound: music-making as creative intervention
7 Photographing as an anthropologist: notes on developing a photo-ethnographic practice in Basilicata
by Steven Feld
Listening Guide

1 The saint and the tree
2 Rhythms in the dark
3 "We came a long way."
4 Dancing with wheat
5 Memories from a loyal companion
6 A musical journey with my zampogna


Lorenzo Ferrarini is a Lecturer in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester

Nicola Scaldaferri is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Milan

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