Introduction to Anthropological Fieldwork and Ethnography
The focus of this course is on the ethnographic method as a means
for learning about, and learning how to talk about that elusive
process we call culture. The purpose is to gain experience in
ethnographic practices--interviewing, fieldwork, qualitative analysis--and
to learn how to write critically informed accounts.. This course
concentrates on issues involved with an anthropology of science
Requirements of the class include weekly reading assignments and
class discussion (10%). Each person will be responsible for a
small presentation on reading (10%).
Each person will also conduct an ethnographic interview (20%)
and conduct fieldwork including fieldnotes (10%), a preliminary
report (20%), and a final report (30%).
Books for the Class
- Faye Harrison, ed., Decolonizing Anthropology.
- Emily Martin, Flexible Bodies.
- Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa.
- Rojer Sanjek, ed., Fieldnotes: The Making of Anthopology.
- Sharon Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes.
Week 1: Introducing the Anthropological Concept of Culture
- Clifford Geertz, (1973) "Thick Description" from
Interpretations of Culture.
- Horace Miner, (1956) "Body Ritual among the Nacerima,"
American Anthropologist 58/3: 503-7.
- Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes. Ch. 0-2.
- Watch Barbara Meyerhoff, Number Our Days.
Assignment for next two weeks is to conduct an hour-long interview
with someone about their work, how they do it, the 'culture' of
Week 2: The Interview
- James Spradley, (1979) The Ethnographic Interview.
- Jane Ribbens, (1989) "Interviewing--An Unnatural Situation?"
Women's Studies International Forum 12/6:579-92.
- Traweek, Ch. 3-4.
Week 3: Power Relations in the Field
- Margaret Mead, (1949) Coming of Age in Samoa. New York:
- Derek Freeman (1983) Margaret Mead and Samoa: the Making
and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press. (Selections).
- Traweek, Ch. 5-6.
Assignment for the next two weeks is to choose a fieldsite
and begin fieldwork.
Week 4: Anthropology, Race and Colonialism
- Faye Harrison, (1991) Decolonizing Anthropology: Moving Further
Towards an Anthropology of Liberation.
Week 5: Fieldnotes
- Roger Sanjek, ed. (1990) Fieldnotes: the Makings of Anthropology.
Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.
- Martin, Flexible Bodies. Ch. 0-1.
Week 6: Studying Up and Out
- Laura Nadar, (1975) Studying Up (Selections).
- Arjun Appadurai (1991) "Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and
Queries for a Transnational Anthropology" in Fox, ed. Recapturing
Anthropology: Working in the Present.
- Igor Kopytoff (1986) "The Cultural Biography of Things:
Commoditization as Process" in Appadurai, ed., The Social
Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective.
- Martin, Ch. 2-5.
Write up Fieldwork problems and worries.
Week 7: Studying Ourselves
- E.E. Evans-Pritchard, (1977) "Notion of Witchcraft Explains
Unfortunate Events" from Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic
among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky, (1982) Risk and Culture
Berkeley: University of California Press. (Ch. 2, 7. 8)
- David Schneider, (1980) American Kinship: A Cultural Account.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Ch. 1, 6).
- Martin, Ch. 6-7.
Week 8: Ethics and Anonymity
- American Anthropological Association, "Statement of Ethics"
- Judith Stacey, "Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography?"
1988, Women's Studies International Forum, 11/1: 21-27.
- Martin, Ch. 8-9.
Formally write up your fieldwork and then analyze it.
Week 9: Writing Culture
- Renato Rosaldo, Culture and Truth (Selections)
- James Clifford and George Marcus, Writing Culture (Selections)
Week 10: Present Fieldwork
- Short ten-minute presentations of some of your fieldwork insights.
Ethnographies emphasizing science, technology, medicine and
- Stephen R. Barley (1984). "The Professional, The Semi-Professional,
and the Machine: The Social Ramifications of Computer Based Imaging
in Radiology." Doctoral Dissertation. MIT.
- Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne eds. (1994) Dislocating
Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies. London: Routledge.
- Jeane Favret-Saada. (1980). Deadly Words: Witchcraft in
the Bocage. Trans. Catherine Cullen [orig. 1977]. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
- Faye Ginsburg. (1989). Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate
in an American Community . Berkeley: University of California
- Hugh Gusterson. (1993). Testing Times: A Nuclear Weapons
Laboratory at the End of the Cold War. Berkeley: University
of California Press.
- Arthur Kleinman. (1988). Rethinking Psychiatry: From Cultural
Category to Personal Experience. New York: The Free Press.
- Emily Martin. (1987). The Woman in the Body: A Cultural
Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press.
- Aihwa Ong. (1987). Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist
Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia. New York: SUNY Press.
- Judith Stacey. (1990) Brave new families: stories of domestic
upheaval in late twentieth century America. New York: Basic
- Michael Taussig. (1987). Shamanism, Colonialism and the
Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
- Brackette Williams. (1991) Stains on my name, war in my
veins: Guyana and the politics of cultural struggle. Durham:
Duke University Press.