The Silence of the Emory Community

The Silence of the Emory Community

Aims of our project:

The aims of our initial ethnographic project were to explore the differences in the community on the Emory Shuttles.

Links to Hurston: A theme that all of us could agree on that we found during our observation was silence. We used this as the main theme for our artistic representation which is exhibited through the black and white images we have produced. We also have one item highlighted in the black and white images. That object sparked the photographer’s attention hence the reasoning for it being highlighted. We also created haikus to go with each picture and highlighted object. In terms of the pictures’ relationship to Hurston we all had different perspectives on it’s connection:

Jazmin Connection: I was most drawn to how silence seemed to be imposed on the bus. For some reason without explanation it seemed as if silence was mandatory. I remember once I got a phone on call while riding the shuttle one day and I was talking on the phone and I started to get looks as if I was breaking some code and I ended my conversation quickly. This imposed silence made me think of how Hurston discusses how some of her characters are silenced in her novels, especially women. Examples of this in Janie with Joe as well Hurston herself. In Wrapped in Rainbows, we discover how Hurston was silenced by Godmother by not being allowed to publish certain things or write about what she desired and also by white publishers.

Jaida Connection: My main observational purpose was to listen to sounds/noises on the bus. Although there weren’t many noises on the bus, there were definitely conversations. When we first started the project, I thought they were would be too many conversations for me to pay attention to. And although I was listening to people’s conversations, I was focused more on the emotions in their voice, their inflections, etc. One thing that stood out to me during one of the few conversations I was able to actually listen to, was the way people speak. Being at Emory, many people come from different places across the U.S and even the world. Of course we see the use of dialect in Hurston’s work, to portray the different regions in which people were from. Examples- color struck, their eyes were watching god, john redding, seraph on the suwanee.



            -Choice of community: We were interested in observing variations in the behavior of Emory commuters as compared with on-campus residents. Therefore, we decided to observe the behavior of a park and ride route as compared to a more student ridden route and see if they were any substantial differences in the way that passengers interacted with each other as well as drivers.

-Choice of materials: we decided to use photography because we felt it was the best medium in order to present our project due to the theme we found most interesting. We thought that black and white was a good way to visually represent silence due to the societal association of black and white with quiet (example being silent movies are usually black and white)


Ethical considerations :

  • Perception of rude behavior varies from culture to culture
  • Do not be biased in self-observation
  • Refrain from making too many ungrounded assumptions about the behavior of individuals. We want to connect ideas and themes into our observations, but we don’t want to impose our one-sided opinions onto the groups we are studying

Contributions of each member:

I was responsible for visually watching our subjects on the shuttles. Because of my part being visual only , I attempted not to interact too much with other passengers and just observe their behavior without my interference. I also took some of the pictures and wrote the haikus to go with my photos.

Everyone else was responsible for listening to our surroundings on the bus. We didn’t necessarily listen to content of conversations but we listened to inflections and emotions in riders’/drivers’ voices.


Klamath Henry, Jazmin Colvin, Amber Feng, Jaida Harris