Ethnographic Research Methods (ANTH 1610)




Extensive field research has defined social anthropology since the beginning of the twentieth century. Despite the long-lived centrality of field research to the discipline, anthropologists have continuously reexamined the accuracy, analytical relevance, and ethical implications of their methodological repertoire. The course begins by introducing students to key theoretical questions that anthropologists have raised about the nature of “fieldwork” in the contemporary world. For example: How can ethnographic research capture the dynamics of globalization? Can multi-sited fieldwork denaturalize notions of static “culture” or reveal how the mobility of people and goods produce local social relations? Or, how can we explore the ways in which local, national and global cultural elements shape the lived experiences of our research interlocutors? The course introduces concrete ways of designing research projects, undertaking active participant observation, fieldnote-writing and interviewing, as well as genealogies, time surveys, space analysis, archival research and the collection of artifacts. These methods will also raise a set of ethical questions about the kinds of social rapport that anthropologists and their field informants might cultivate during research. We explore the myriad identities and subjectivities produced through the fieldwork encounter with a particular focus on race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. The last part of the course focuses on how anthropologists transform field data into ethnographic writing. 
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