Review | Leiden University
Shizugawa | Andrew Littlejohn
Anthropologist Andrew Littlejohn composes sonic ethnography in Japan
Andrew Littlejohn composed a sonic ethnography with sounds recorded in Japan’s northeastern region. He decided to make recordings because he wasn’t satisfied with the images and videos that appeared after a tsunami struck there in 2011. Most of it was ruin photography, often involving gazing on destruction from the distance. To understand the experience of being in the middle of a changing landscape, Littlejohn composed a sonic ethnography called Shizugawa, named after a district in Minamisanriku Town where he recorded. The work was released by the label Gruenrekorder on the first of December 2020. Shizugawa is a work of field recording, or location-based sound recording: someone goes out into the world with a microphone and records the sounds of the surroundings. Field recording isn’t new in anthropology; today, a number of well-known anthropologists, like Rupert Cox, Steven Feld, Ernst Karel, and Stephanie Spray, use it as part of a multi-modal approach to exploring and representing sounded worlds. []