Lorenzo Ferrarini

Doing Anthropology with More than Words


Lorenzo Ferrarini

I am a filmmaker, photographer and sound recordist based at the University of Manchester, where I teach ethnographic documentary at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. I received my PhD in 2014 from the same institution, with a dissertation on the knowledge of the donso hunters of Burkina Faso. Before moving to Britain I studied anthropology and ethnomusicology in Milano, Italy, where I collaborate with the LEAV – Ethnomusicology and Visual Anthropology Lab at the University of Milan since its establishment in 2005. Here I developed my passion for photography and learned to shoot and edit video, in addition to various techniques of field sound recording.

Because I think photography, video and sound recording can add so much to our knowledge of people’s lifeworlds, I use all of these three media in my ethnographic practice. I derive the poetics of my works in audiovisual media from an interest in the embodied and sensory aspects of culture, all mixed with an approach inspired by phenomenology. I did research among Egyptian migrants in Italy (2007-2008) and donso hunters in Western Burkina Faso (2011-12, 2015, 2018-19). In both cases I used radically participant and participated methods, sharing everyday practical activities and the conception of my media projects.

I like jazz and West African traditional music, especially drums and balafon from Burkina Faso. I used to play rugby and I still like it. My friends who know me the best often say I should have studied engineering, so perhaps you should take all I wrote above with a grain of salt.




My first and main passion. I prefer to shoot people and in colour, trying to give a sense of space and movement with wide angles and motion blur. I like documentary photography and reportage.


I took up making video in 2005, first with camcorders and now with DSLRs. I make documentaries, but in my work I try to push the boundaries of the genre with collaborative and experimental projects.


Sound can tell its own story. Not only I try to give it a equal dignity than images in my work, but I sometimes produce soundscape compositions, trying to immerse the listener in a sonic environment.


I am an anthropologist, and anthropology is still mostly a discipline of words. I write on themes such as embodiment, perception, ecology and research methods.


I am a lecturer in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre of the University of Manchester. I teach ethnographic documentary in the MA in visual anthropology and in a short course for beginners.


Sometimes I play with HTML, CSS, a bit of PHP and JavaScript. I designed my own website and did it for others, but it is not my main skill. I can also design the occasional poster or logo, if needed.