Ethnological Sensations

Researching old historical documents, the famous Dutch historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), author of The Waning of the Middle Ages (1924), experienced an immediate contact with the distant past, a strong impression that he once described as the 'historical sensation'. Playing on Huizinga's felicitous phrase, we refer to an 'ethnological sensation' to describe that special insightful and often unintentional experience during the research of an ethnologist or folklorist (in spe), the one moment that gave him or her the insight that this is it: the work I must dedicate myself to, the discipline that makes me tick.

SIEF decided to share such important experiences. Diverse colleagues – present in Amsterdam at SIEF’s 50th anniversary symposium in 2014, present at the 12th international congress in Zagreb in 2015 or present at the 13th international congress in Göttingen in 2017 - were asked to explain before the camera and share with their SIEF colleagues their own ethnological sensation or a telling moment that offered insight into what the field is all about.

SIEF brings every month two new ethnological sensations online for you to watch. We hope you enjoy the short ‘sensational’ testimonies of your colleagues! Please feel free to share the films with your friends, your colleagues, or your students.

The clips are filmed and produced by Áslaug Einarsdóttir in 2014, 2015 and 2017.​