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Editorial notices


journal for qualitative research

ISSN 1211-5770
Registration code MK ČR: E 8364
Published by the civil association Casopis Biograf
Krompach 26, 47157
ICO: 27003213
Two issues per year.
Editor-in-chief: Barbora Spalová (

Text detail

Biograf 2019/69

Echoes of the Silent Revolution: Fifteen Remarks on Sensory Ethnography Lab Films

Pavel Borecký

Echoes of the Silent Revolution: Fifteen Remarks on Sensory Ethnography Lab Films

In the last decade, the audiovisual projects of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University received an unprecedented international recognition across art film and social science communities. They aroused excited admiration (especially among cinephiles), but also a plain rejection (especially among academic institutions). In her article on “ethics of staring”, Tereza Bernátková claims that SEL consistently aims at updating the forms of representation and knowledge-creation; thanks to the methodological playfulness, down-played linguistic interpretations, and orientation towards a body. In response, I present fifteen points, in which I evaluate Bernátková’s argumentation and refer back to my own practice inspired by the scholarship in question. The analysis is struc-tured in three layers – ethical, aesthetic and political. First, I show how SEL creates ethical-ly embedded means for counter-visuality (Mirzoeff). Second, I discuss how hyper-realistic forms of sensory ethnography relate to the affect theory (Massumi), and, third, how these film interventions could be received as a cultural critique of late capitalist societies (Otto). Finally, I argue for the use of sensory ethnography in the interdisciplinary research of the so-called entangled vision (Borecký). If Bernátková’s paper highlights the strands of SEL’s oeuvre to revive the documentary practice, I advocate for the contribution of Sensory Eth-nography Lab films in contemporary anthropology. As such, the article can also be read as a general reflection on the role of audiovisual methods in the humanities and social sciences.


Sensory Ethnography Lab, sensory ethnography, observational cinema, eth-nographic film, documentary film, visual anthropology, senses, affect, cognition, vision, sensory turn, cultural critique, post-humanities, social anthropology, research ethics, qualitative­ research methods, audiovisual methods, Anthropocene.

Associated with texts:

BERNÁTKOVÁ, T. (2018): Naučit se pohybovat v neurčitosti: Filmy Sensory Ethnography Lab a etika zírání[Learn to live in uncertainty: SEL documentaries and the ethics of staring]. Biograf, 67-68: 3-28. Available at

Biograf themes:

Anthropology and ethnography; Visuality, visual media and research


BORECKÝ, P. (2019): Ozvuky tiché revoluce: Patnáct poznámek k filmům Sensory Ethnography Lab [Echoes of the Silent Revolution: Fifteen Remarks on Sensory Ethnography Lab Films].Biograf, 69-70: 113-134. Available at [last access27. 01. 2022]


Vřelé díky patří Tereze Bernátkové, Michalovi Pavláskovi a Lívii Šavelkové za skvělé komentáře, kterými přispěli k dokončení textu.

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