Filmmaking in a Linguistic Ethnography of Deaf Tourist Encounters

Erin Moriarty*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile filmmaking as a methodology in linguistic ethnography of deaf languaging practices results in multilayered, "thick" data that moves analysis beyond bounded sign languages. These recordings allow us to examine what people do, rather than what they say they do. Ethnographic film is not only documentation, or dissemination of research; it is also an opportunity to elicit metalinguistic data through reflective discussions with audiences about the languaging practices shown in the film. The use of film showcases the data itself, allowing for an analysis of the diversity of communicative repertoires and modalities used by people as they communicate with each other. To illustrate this, I will discuss an example from my fieldwork in Indonesia, linking to an uploaded video of an encounter between a deaf tourist and hearing worker in the Ubud Monkey Forest that shows how deaf people are able to rapidly move from strategy/modality to strategy/modality (e.g., pointing, using a smartphone to type a note or translate a word, gesturing, and mouthing). The use of filmmaking in mobile ethnography reveals the spatial, modal, and semiotic affordances and constraints in individual communicative encounters, as well as the ways in which deaf people leverage or surmount them. Finally, mobile ethnographic filmmaking draws attention to the research participants themselves and their perspectives, showing what they do as they communicate, which can later be used to elicit more data during audience reception discussions. This is especially important in research with groups that may have differential access to academic discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-594
Number of pages23
JournalSign Language Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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