FALL 2005 WORKSHOPS
As You Are”
Long IslandUniversity Fall 2005
Dr. Halbert Barton
M 6:00pm – 8:30pm in LLC507
Office hours: M 2pm-5pm (or by appt.)
Office location and phone: Room H834; x1163
COURSE THEME AND DESCRIPTION:
We all come into contact with people from different cultures every day in
big cities like New York . We know this by the variety of languages and dialects,
clothing styles and dress codes, cuisines and customs, in our midst. Complex
societies such as our own are completely saturated with Appadurai calls ethnoscapes (a
patchwork panorama of distinct cultural displays) and what Spradley calls cultural
scenes , recurring social situations that require some specific forms
of knowledge (of symbolism, etc.) in order to participate effectively and appreciate
what is really going on beneath appearances. Yet awareness of other cultures
is usually pretty superficial (based on over-simplified generalizations and
stereotypes) unless someone has migrated, or been exiled, to another country
or part of the world, and/or has married into another culture, …in short,
has been forced (whether by love or law or necessity) to learn a new language
and a new way of doing things. Ethnography is in-depth writing
about (and documentation of) different cultures, and about cultural differences
within, among, and between social groups. Ethnographies are among the most
important texts that cultural anthropologists produce – they are what
Geertz calls thick descriptions of other cultures (and cultural
differences in general) that aim to do justice to their complexity, providing
windows into other ways of seeing the world and other ways of living. Ethnographies
teach us that our own way of doing things, our own approach to life, our own
perspective and worldview, is inherently limited, not the only way possible,
and not necessarily the best way. Cultural learning is a humbling and mind-boggling
experience that can be as joyful as it is unsettling, as liberating as it is
vexing; it is a boundless and lifelong process that is never entirely complete
and must always take into account changing circumstances as well as social
and historical conditions. Ethnographers take notes on their experience of
cultural immersion (called fieldwork ), compare notes with
other ethnographers and dialogue about their experience ( cross-cultural
comparison ) in the creation of fieldnotes , a sketch
of the cultural scene which will be used as a first draft of and primary source
for the final written ethnography. Ethnographies are what enable us to learn
from other cultures and learn from our cultural differences, utilizing information
and knowledge that has been put to the test among a community of scholars.
This course will discuss the importance of ethnography for multicultural learning
in contemporary urban society and will emphasize the theories, methods and
philosophies which guide ethnographers in their search for better understanding
REQUIRED TEXTS (at bookstore, on reserve when available)
Spradley, James. 1988. The Cultural Experience . Waveland.
Wacquant, Loic. 2004. Body and Soul . Oxford .
Podolefsky. 2002. Applying Cultural Anthropology . Mayfield.
Selected articles: additional short readings TBA
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: This is a writing intensive course which fulfills
LIU Brooklyn 's writing-intensive requirement. For graduation, all students
are required to take nine credits of writing-intensive courses. These courses
include English 16, Core Seminar, and a WI course in the major.
Lecture attendance is mandatory; note-taking encouraged. Reading assignments
are to be completed before class to promote active participation in class discussion.
Class participation (essential for receiving high grades) includes both quantity
(i.e. attendance) and quality (i.e. being prepared to engage in discussion
to the best of your abilities), up to 10% of final grade for overall professionalism
(punctuality, preparation, etc.). Quizzes will be given periodically and will
count towards participation credit. Additional short writing assignments (1-2
pages) will also count towards participation credit as homework. There will
be two exams - midterm count for 20% of the course grade; the final exam will
There are four short (3-4 page) writing assignments in the first half of the
course that may be revised for the final research portfolio. The major writing
assignment (40% of course grade) will include a 16-20 page research portfolio
based on an ethnographic project (a “thick description” of a cultural
scene to be chosen before the midterm). Prospectus is due at the first exam.
Bibliography and first draft are due two weeks after the midterm. The final
draft is due at the beginning of the period on the last day of class.
There will be no incompletes and no make-up exams given for this course
without a written medical excuse. You will receive a zero for a missed exam
or assignment. If there is any student who feels that she or he may need
an accommodation for any type of disability, please make an appointment to
see me during my office hours.
SCHEDULE OF LECTURES, ASSIGNMENTS, AND DISCUSSIONS:
[Required readings are listed; copies of supplementary readings will be made
available in class]
Wk 1-2: Sep 15, 22 Ethnography:
What is it?
Introduction - course themes and structure
Review of culture concept: basic aspects; approaches
Ethnography: what, how, why, who, where, for whom
historical overview of us/them relations:
who are “they”?!
varieties of ethnography: formal/informal
modes of cultural learning
Ethnography as cultural translation; ethnomethodology
Cultural Logic: getting the joke, tasting the recipe, learning the rules,
Examples of ethnography in action: Anthropology in Use (sourcebook)
Read: Spradley: Ch.1-2
Mini-Ethnography #1: “My Starting Points”: describe
your sense of community (pride of place; what you value about your cultural
location/upbringing) and your favorite cultural scene (where you love to hang
out), write as you would to a stranger (2-3 pages). Due 9/22.
Wk 3: Sep 29 How to do it; Learning by Doing
Starting points: pride of place, sense of community
Identifying an ethnographic problem: cultural scenes, stakeholders
Key symbols (Ortner) and cultural problems:
>> attention to sources of tension and conflict
Balinese cockfight as a cultural scene (Geertz)
Action research: Horton/Freire/MLKing legacy: look/think/act
Case study of cultural problem: literacy/citizenship/democracy(USA/Brazil)
Mini-Ethnography #2 CULTURAL SCENE (2-4 pages) - identify
a local cultural scene ; find a way to participate in some aspect
of it (participant-observation); and, write a thick description of
it. What did you learn by participating (“hanging out”) that
you would not have otherwise? Due 9/29.
Wk 4: Oct 6 : Ethnographic interviews and local experts
Read: Spradley , Ch. 3 on interviews, “informants” and local experts
Mini-Ethnography #3: ETHNOGRAPHIC INTERVIEW (2-4
pages) – what can you learn about someone's culture (esp. cultural
knowledge) by talking to them? Identify a person whose cultural background
differs from your own and do a detailed interview with them (begin with a
life history, if possible). Remember the difference between biographical
and ethnographic interviews (overlapping content but the goals are different).
What did you learn by talking to this person that you would not have otherwise? Due
Wk 5: Oct 13 : Cultural meaning – culture as a system
of signs and symbols
Read: Spradley: Ch. 4
Wk 6: Oct 20 : Describing cultures
Read: Spradley: Ch. 5
Wk 7: Oct 27 MIDTERM
Read: Spradley: “Ethnographies”
Mini-Ethnography #4: RESEARCHING A TOPIC (Prospectus
for a possible term topic, plus prelim. bibliography, 4-5 pages, inc. references).
Choose a topic that you may want to study in depth for the next six weeks,
and locate the research materials that you will need in order to do some
effective cultural comparison (seeing your topic in a larger context with
points of comparison to be developed in your final paper). Due
10/27 at midterm .
Wk 8: Nov 3 : Review midterm results and discuss student
Wk 9 -12: Nov 10, 17, 24, Dec 1 How to do
it better; ethnography in the metropolis; ethnography around the world; from “ethnomethodology” (Spradley)
to the “extended case method” (Burawoy)
Wk 9 – 13: Reading and discussing Wacquant in relation to student projects.
Wk 13-14: Dec 8, 15 Student research presentations; course summary
FINAL EXAM: details TBA
FINAL PAPER REVISIONS & COMPLETE PORTFOLIO DUE AT EXAM PERIOD