ANTH 325D: Fieldwork and the Cross-Cultural Encounter
Dr. William Smith
Office: HSS 214
Hours: MWF 9-10 a.m. Th 1-4 p.m.
This course will give students grounding in research
design, tools of data collection and anthropological analysis, and reflection on
issues of cultural difference. Each
student will identify a research problem and field site in the local area and
conduct a study on a topic meaningful to the community. In this local context, students will
develop their skills in applying theoretical knowledge to practical research,
and explore various research methods of the discipline. A significant portion of class readings
and assignments will focus on writing fieldnotes, which, together with
participant observation, is the heart of ethnographic field research.
COURSE PREREQUISITES: Anthropology 216 is strongly recommended.
Amit, Vered, ed.
(Note: Selections from this book are on eReserve at Hamersly Library)
Crane, Julia G. and Michael V. Angrosino
Field Projects in Anthropology: A
Student Handbook, Third Edition.
Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw
Main Project (30% of final grade)
By the end of the term, students will have produced a ~ 10-page paper representing the fruits of their research labors over the course of the term. You will have two options as to what form your project will take: one, a short ethnographic study; two, a research proposal incorporating pilot research toward a more substantial project. I would encourage students choosing the latter option to use this course to develop an agenda for the senior project in anthropology. Guidelines for both options will be distributed in due time.
Project or Proposal Abstract (5% of final grade)
The first steps for either project option are to choose a specific question for investigation and a field site in which to do the investigating. At the week 4 mark, you will turn in a one- to two-page synopsis, briefly describing your field site and discussing the question you intend to address. Describe your theoretical approach to the question (this will develop partly from your exploration of background literature [week 3]), and explain your choice of methodologies to gather data on the topic (e.g. participant observation, structured or unstructured interviews, life histories, surveys, maps, archival research, photography, etc.). If you are already into the research, discuss the data you have gathered that bears on your question, and sketch your findings thus far in light of your theoretical approach.
Annotated Bibliography (5% of final grade)
By week 4 you should have read a handful of sources (5-10 or more articles, books, chapters from edited volumes, films, etc., most likely a combination of these) that bear importantly on your project, especially on the theoretical framework you have chosen to pursue. In class, week 5, you will turn in a bibliography, written in proper citation form, and a short explanation of each source that makes it clear why it is germane to your project (no more than three or four lines will do). The idea here is to identify a research vein in anthropology and/or other social sciences and elucidate how your research participates in that tradition.
Map Project (5% of final grade)
Week 4, in lieu of class
in the classroom, we will divide into groups of three or four and do an exercise
in mapping and proxemics (social space) in
Holiness People Project (15% of final grade)
Also during week 5 we
will see a film portraying a
Interview Schemes (5% of final grade)
Certainly research projects vary in the extent, depth, and formality they bring to interviewing subjects. But no ethnographic research gets done entirely without an interview component. Yours is no exception. At the week 7 point, you will turn in the list of questions you have been using—in whatever way you are getting at these questions in your interviews, which will depend on your interviewing style—to gather interview data for your project.
At the week 8 juncture, you will submit a draft of your project-in-process (6 pages minimum). This will ensure that you have a good jump on the project and get feedback from me well in advance of the due date.
Final Presentation (10% of final grade)
Individual presentations of projects or proposals (15 minutes), followed by a short Q and A period, will occur the last week of class. Students will provide critical and constructive feedback on classmates’ work. In the presentation you should describe your research site, your particular research topic, the major methods you are using, the data you have gathered, and the analysis of your findings.
Class Participation (10% of final grade)
We will conduct this class for the most part in seminar style, which features discussion. Students are expected to attend all class periods and to have read all reading assignments prior to the period on which we will cover them. The success of the course will depend significantly on vital discussions of course material and other issues connected with ethnographic fieldwork and writing. Students, therefore, should be prepared to contribute to those discussions. Each week with a substantial discussion component—there will be six of them—a team of two or three students will lead discussion of the readings.
All assignments are due at the beginning of the class period on which they are scheduled for submission. Late assignments will lose one letter grade for each day past due except in the event of severe, appropriately documented illness or emergency. Requests for extensions must be made in writing in advance of the due date. In the interests of fairness to all students, I will be extremely firm on this (i.e. if your request for an extension does not meet the above criteria, do not make the request).
CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)
1 Introduction: Fieldwork and its Object
Film: A World of Differences
2 Research Design and Ethics
ER: LeCompte and Shensul on Research Paradigms and Design; American Anthropological Association Statement on Ethics (available on AAA website); Film: Stranger with a Camera Turn in: a provisional idea for your research project
3 Background Literature Research, Intro to Fieldnotes
FPA: 23-43, 159-178; WEF: 2; ER: Low Small Group
Activity: Mapping and Social Space
FPA: 64-74; WEF: chs. 3 & 4 Small group presentations of maps and commentary; Film and Observation/Fieldnote Activity: The Holiness People; Turn in: annotated bibliography.
6 “Informants,” Interviews, Life Histories, and Surveys
FPA: 75-107, 136-149; WEF: 5; ER: Pink & Norman; ER: Behar. Film: N’ai: Portrait of a !Kung Woman Turn in: Short paper on The Holiness People
WEF: 6 Activity: Veterans’ Day Parade (bring camera and film). Turn in: interview schemes
ER: Grills, Gledhill. Film: The Charcoal People Activity: Veterans’ Day photo expo and analysis. Activity: Debate on research, uses of data, and advocacy. Turn in: Rough draft of project or proposal
9 The Field Today: Ethnography as Science and Art in the Twenty-First Century
ER: Gupta and