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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Mini Ethnographic Study and Analyses

September 11, 2018

 

For your project, you will apply core concepts learned in class to produce a mini-ethnography and anthropological analysis. This project is aimed to give you a taste of the various research stages sociocultural anthropology research projects must take. Depending on the quality of your work, the results of this project could be used to produce real anthropological research (a thesis project, presentations at anthropological conferences and/or peer-reviewed research). The topic of your ethnography will be of your choice. Beginning at the start of the semester you will be required to use your 4th hour to begin anthropologically exploring a cultural group or society of your choice. The cultural group or society must either be local or online. This is because you must use direct ethnographic methods. To begin, each week you must collect and summarize data (in the form of online articles, written notes, pictures, and other information. To keep track of your data, use a comprehensive digital note app (OneNote, Evernote, etc). By week 3, using your preliminary research, you will discuss and share your topic of interest during class-room discussions. By the completion of the midterm, you must produce a proposal to hone your research project into an anthropological analysis. This proposal will include your background research in addition to a developed research question that defines your project’s focus. Additionally, you must describe the methodology that will be used to explore your research question. This proposal must be approved by the instructor. After your proposal is approved, you will work towards answering your research question, applying your methods, and producing an analysis that will be written and presented in-class at the end of the semester. More specifically, you will produce a short 5-10-minute presentation of your project to your peers during the final two weeks of class and the written portion of the project will be submitted using Canvas at the end of the semester during final exam week. The following outline provides a basic overview of the project:

 

Stage 1: Exploring a Subject of Study

A) Choosing your topic  

B) Background Research

C) Sharing your topic

 

Stage 2: Analyzing an Anthropological Subject: The Proposal  

A) Defining your research question B) Defining methods and scope C) Approval

 

Stage 3: Producing a Socio-Cultural Analysis

A) Presenting your results B) Writing-up your results

 

How to investigate?

Collect notes by answering the following questions with the most detail you can. Your ethnography should result in 2-3 pages of ethnographic notes. The questions and topics below will guide what notes you collect.

 

Goals: Aim to explore the following broad questions

Social interactions: Individual Identity - Group Affiliation

How do people create individual and group identity?
Place - How do people organize themselves in space? Where do they go?
Actions - What do certain people mainly do?
Desire - Motivations for activities and practices? Consider the implications for the rest of society

 

Explore and begin your ethnography using the following steps:


1. Make friends! You will be joining this society for a brief time. Things to consider:
Is your group in a safe environment?

Are their activities safe? if not then do something else!

Do you find the group to be interesting?

Do you have permission?

 

2. Learn the language (understanding codes)- Ask questions
What Symbols does your group use?

Do they have a unique form of logic specific to their activities?

How do they identify themselves and their group leaders?


3. Learn how to do things from other people (codes)
Participant Observation (move through territories and try out practices)

How do they organize their activities?

What roles do people play?

How is labor divided between members?

How do they teach others to participate?

How do you learn from their actions?




 

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