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So here’s what i’d like you to write about:
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This week we’ve been looking at how cultural anthropologists gather their data (for example, through ethnographic fieldwork), and the challenges that many anthropologists encounter when they do that work.
Have you ever moved to a new place, started at a new school, or entered as a stranger into a new social group? If so, you have had at least a taste of what anthropologists are supposed to do when they begin fieldwork. Anthropologist Michael Agar called this role that of the “professional stranger”, and it can be pretty lonely and stressful, especially at first. So here’s what I’d like you to write about:
Now that you know something about how anthropologists conduct fieldwork, think about any experience you’ve had of being in a new place, and/or among a new group of people. How is it different or the same from how anthropologists do fieldwork? (If you’ve never had any experience of this at all, talk to a friend or relative and ask them about their experience. Make sure you have their permission to talk about it here!)
Anthropologists always do a lot of research on that culture before they go for their fieldwork; many of them have visited the place previously. (In some cases, they can be going back to places that are very familiar to them.) Was or is this true for your situation? How would that change things, do you think?
Some of the issues that anthropologists doing fieldwork have to contend with are being aware of emic vs. etic perspectives, learning the difference between real vs. ideal behavior, culture shock, and having to learn new cultural rules. Do those concerns apply at all when you enter a new setting? How?
Anthropologists have to do their best to stay culturally relative when they enter a new culture. Is or was that true for you as well? How would you do that in your new social setting?
As always, just do your best with this. Your essay should be about 2 pages in length, and is due by 11:59pm on Sunday, September 25th.
Read chapter 3 in Kottak!!