Finding one’s rhythm: A ‘tour de force’ of fieldwork on the road with a band

Anna Lisa Ramella
Locating Media, University of Siegen

Research on mobility as a daily labour condition, as I have found, is best conducted as a bodily experience of movement. Drawing from the example of touring bands, I would like to point out the regularities and routines which shape the lifeworlds of the subject, but also require the will to experimentation from the researcher regarding the fieldwork situation. The methodology of participating in a full summer music tour meant not only an intimate engagement with the subjects, but a transformation of my own daily rhythm from a somewhat sedentary to a mobile lifestyle.

In this chapter I would like to add to the idea of experimental/collaborative value of ethnography with an example of double-engagement within a fieldwork “on the move“; while the musicians have developed and are constantly developing skills and strategies to enable a feeling of “place“ within their constant movement, their expertise is linked to specific, yet often indeterminable regularities. This nature of their automatisms is challenging to methods like participant observation and requires creativity in developing more experimental, sensory and intuitive field methods which often arise from the very need for stability of one’s own mobile experience. Collaboration in this sense may corrupt the researcher’s position, yet being undefined in this tight core of group dynamics – this process of positioning becomes the ground mark of finding one’s own rhythm within the infrastructures of the tour.

Anna Lisa Ramella
Anna Ramella
Anna Lisa Ramella (Berlin, 1983) is an anthropologist and filmmaker, graduate of the M.A. Transcultural Studies at the University of Bremen. Using methods of Visual Anthropology, her M.A. approached sedentary life in transit along the railroad region of the Dakar-Niger express in Mali. Through the conjunction of text, image and sound, the interactive web project „www.laviedurail.net“ was created. Currently, Anna Lisa Ramella is preparing her PhD at the University of Bremen, a digital ethnography project focusing on place-making within mobility on the example of touring musicians.

She has presented her research and films at international film festivals, including Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, SVA Film and Media Festival as well as international conferences such as IUAES and EASA. Her newest film „Circulating objects“ brought her back to West Africa to visually unravel the many perspectives on the trade of objects between Europe and Africa.