Ethnographic Research Paper

Ethnographic Research Paper-5
This anchors all the papers in the group to a debate. Revisit I almost always have them do multiple visits (2-3) because it usually opens up their observation skills and brings in richer data. Write To get them into the flavor and feel of ethnographic writing, I start one or two classes with free writing exercises geared at getting them to find their voice, or the story they are going to tell.Kirin Narayan’s book has great prompts adaptable to student projects.There are great sources out there on writing field notes. My preference is to have students read thematic content, and so I accept that the exercise of writing an ethnographic paper for early undergraduates is an incomplete introduction to fieldwork.

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In linguistic anthropology I have them choose a “Community of Practice” which is pretty wide open and can mean anything from drag queens to gym rats.

In a third year Politics of Indigeneity course, I had students watch patrons pass through (or not) the Aboriginal Canadian exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The less they put into the notes the harder it is for me to pull a paper out.

First-time ethnographic papers feel a bit like grabbing a rabbit out of a hat—there is some degree of hocus pocus involved.

These don’t take long and are a nice break from lecture.

I do these exercises along with them so they can see that thoughts wander and some pieces will be good, while others need work—lots of work.Part Two of “Teaching Culture and Methods to Novice/Non-Anthropologists” In my last post, I made the case for having students attempt ethnographic papers in courses other than “methods.” By introducing early undergraduates to the pleasures of ethnography, I think we showcase anthropology’s strong suit, but more importantly, I think it is a great way to scaffold them into ways of writing and reading that will serve them well in both the social sciences and the humanities.In this second post, I share the steps I go through to squeeze an ethnographic experience into what are admittedly short, one-term courses (12 weeks).The hardest part is getting them to see their field site as a window into a debate, and not an exploration of the site for itself.The rabbit goes where it goes and their job is to follow.They almost always cluster well, with only one or two real outliers.In larger classes, I reorganize tutorial groups by these shared interests.If in lecture I ask them to get together to talk or work through a concept or the readings, I ask them to do it in their research communities so that they are dialoguing new information with, and through, their own work/topics.Their final reading(s) are tailored to their interests, using broad themes like religion, sports, work, gender/sexuality, food, the body, etc. Sometimes this means asking colleagues (or TAs, if you are lucky to have them).Many students want to search for an authoritative voice for note taking.Usually this means listing demographic facts in the hopes of sounding thorough or scientific.

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