Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

This class examines qualitative methods used in anthropology, focusing primarily on participant-observation, on asking questions, on writing fieldnotes, and on the transformation of these primary field data into written ethnographic documents. Ethnography is a fundamental part of anthropology. Ethnography “the writing of culture” is used in two contrasting senses, referring both to the method of qualitative research characterized by living and working among people through the process of participant observation and to the product of this research: the written account. This course will focus both on the process of producing, reading and interpreting written accounts of culture, and on the methodology required for ethnographic research. This course has several primary objectives. One goal is to give you a number of practical, applied tools during the course of the semester, which you will use in ethnographic projects. The second objective is to allow you to practice and implement these tools. The third is to read and discuss work by anthropologists, especially focusing on the lessons they learned and the challenges they faced during the ethnographic process with a particular focus on the ways in which anthropologists tackle issues of power, privilege and diversity in their research. Upon completion of this course you will have experience with research methods and crafting writing styles in scientific inquiry; have acquired fieldwork abilities and strengthened your skills in culturally sensitive research and analysis; identified the power of representation embedded within ethnographic stories; and reflected on the idea of empowerment through participation addressed in power inequalities in your own research. Finally, a new course goal is to build community not only within our major but across our department by periodically joining classes with the sociology methods’ course, which meets at the same time as our class.

Student Outcomes

In this Ethnographic Methods class, students will be able to: ● Engage with cultural differences by developing an awareness of how people with different cultural backgrounds make meaning of the world differently. ● Identify and analyze structures and institutions that create and sustain inequality and marginalization now and in the past. ● Develop an ability to appreciate diverse worldwide perspectives through the examination of cultural customs and traditions, all while contemplating their own personal values and traditions.