This writing assignment gives you the chance to act as the very anthropologists that you already are. Throughout the semester, we have and will continue to talk about the various ways that humans interact with each other and their environment from a variety of perspectives-?kinship relationships, gender roles, political-economy, the socially-mediated construct of race, ethnic distinctions, religious affiliation, sexuality, class, and eventually from a capitalist global economic perspective.
New York as a city and rounding areas are vibrant places that include almost as many different manners of social interaction as there are people. Go into these spaces, yourself, to observe the kinds Of interactions going on around you, and the kinds of contradictions you might see. Your job is to describe and analyze these. You will essentially be doing a mini-fieldwork project. Your task: 1) As participant-observers, sit and observe the area and people around you. Take at least 20 minutes of sitting in one place, and, with a notepad and pen or a computer, take notes, observing the world around you.
You can go to someplace as iconic as Times Square, on the subway, or simply sit in your neighborhood near a local bodega or in a nearby park. Begin simply by taking notes and jotting down the things around you and the things and people you see. Use as many tools as necessary (notes, drawings, maps, etc. ). Think about and answer some of the following questions: Take note of the people around you. How do they differ? What do their interactions with one another say about the kinds of gendered, racial, economic, ethnic, kin, or even political relationships between and among these people?
What might their occupations or activities in this space tell you about them? How do the various larger perspectives weve discussed thus far throughout the semester interact with one another? For instance, how might religion and gender, or economics, politics and class, be intertwined and embedded in the people you are observing? Describe the space. What do the surroundings of the environment tell you about the global flows of capital, perhaps, or how capital is invested (or perhaps not invested) in a particular space? Why that space might be seen as more or less “valuable?
Is it a space of recreation, of business, of residence, of travel/transportation, and how does that affect the kinds of interactions going on among the people there, how people move around, and what people are doing there? You do not have to interview or speak to people for this project, although if you choose to, you may. (In this case, disclosure to them about your assignment is strongly suggested. ) However, sitting, and observing while doing NOTHING ELSE is key, particularly if you are in an area very familiar to you. This means turning off your phones and devices for communication. Sit, sites, watch, and write.
In this way, you are better able to pick up on the kinds of things that might seem very ordinary and everyday to you, but in fact speak volumes to the way parts of this very complex society are composed. 2) Once you are finished observing, use your field notes to compose an essay of a minimum three (3) pages double spaced, with 1″ margins obituary experience and what you observed. In writing this essay, you must have a thesis statement or overarching question that you will try to answer from your analysis (although in most cases you will not have this formulated prior o your observation).
This should frame the kinds of interactions and contradictions you saw in your observations, and link this question to a theoretical/analytical framework related to what we have discussed in class. E. G. : If your chosen framework relates to gender, race, class and/or religion, some pertinent questions might be: – How do race, class and gender intersect in that particular field site? – How is gender performed? – How are class and power relations expressed in that particular space? – What are the intersections between gender, class and religion? How is elective effervescence expressed in a particular site or ritual? What does it say about social relations? Be aware that while we seem sometimes in class to talk about gender, politics, economics, kinship, race, religion, etc. Separately, they intertwine constantly and in very complex ways.