This graduate seminar for anthropology doctoral students is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the ethnographic research enterprise. The course focuses on ethics and entrée to the research setting, ethnographic research design, interview-based and observational methods of data collection and documentation, and ethnographic data analysis. A major goal of the course is preparation of a doctoral dissertation field research proposal, in National Science Foundation (NSF) Cultural Anthropology format, which incorporates the skills and approaches discussed in class. The course is divided into four sections as follows:
Section One provides a brief overview of some of the major epistemological, pragmatic, and ethical issues involved in ethnographic research. Included are discussions of researchers’ social identities and roles in the “host” community, relationships with informants, use of research assistants, protection of human subjects, various ethical dilemmas encountered in ethnographic research, and issues of site, voice, ethnographic authority and reflexivity, including a personal genealogical exercise.
Section Two is devoted to proposing and designing an ethnographic field research project. Included are discussions of funding sources, problem definition and selection, literature review, site selection, selection of study populations and comparison groups, and ethnographic hypothesis generation and testing. In this section of the course, primary emphasis is placed on the fundamentals of constructing a research proposal in standard National Science Foundation format, for later preparation and presentation.
Section Three examines ethnographic data collection methods and data analysis. The primary focus is on various types of unstructured, semi-structured, and structured interview-based methods, including their use among individuals and groups. In addition, various types of direct observation and methods of documentation are emphasized. A number of methodological assignments and in-class exercises will occur in this section of the course.
Section Four is devoted to presentation of grant proposals. In the final month of the course, all students will make a formal proposal presentation for the purposes of class discussion and revision. The revised proposal is due on May 9.