Ethnography means ‘writing about culture’. Historically, ethnographers spent a period of time (sometimes years) with a local community before producing a written text about their culture.

Contemporary ethnography is much more reflexive, participatory and engaged. Reflexive ethnographers often work with communities to develop a shared understanding of what’s happening in a local region and they then co-create stories about their joint findings. They also enable communities to tell their own stories, using whichever mediums the communities choose.

Hypermedia ethnography is another innovation in the process of ‘writing culture’. It involves the use of multiple types of media (written texts, films, music, spoken word, material artefacts, etc.) to record and tell a community’s stories.

Many of TRACE’s research methodologies are informed by reflexive and hypermedia approaches to ethnography. This engaged approach to research enables us to work with local communities to document, co-create, and enable local storytelling.

The Dare to Write? Atlas, is an example of one of TRACE’s hypermedia media projects. Led by Bambo Soyinka and Joanna Nissel, the Dare to Write? Atlas aims to document the life of authors and readers across the South West of England. The Atlas also champions projects that enable local people to tell their own stories. ‘Our Corsham Stories’, featured on the Dare to Write? Atlas, is one example of a grassroots community storytelling project.