SemesterSpring Semester, 2020
DepartmentMA Program of Ethnology, First Year PhD Program of Ethnology, First Year MA Program of Ethnology, Second Year PhD Program of Ethnology, Second Year
Course NameThe Research Methods of Ethnology
Course TypeRequired
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Week 1- 2/18: Course Introduction

Course overview

Ethnographic methods and ethnographic writing

Deep description

Participant Observation


Fieldwork Assignment: Deep Description - memory


Week 2- 2/25: General Thoughts on Ethnography


Ingold, T. 2017. Anthropology contra ethnography. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7 (1):21–26.

Abu-Lughod; L. (1991). Writing Against Culture. In R. G.Fox (Ed.); Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present (pp. 466–479). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.


Additional Suggested readings

Nader, Laura, 2011. “Ethnography as Theory,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1(1): 211-219.

McGranahan, C. (2018). Ethnography Beyond Method: The Importance of an Ethnographic Sensibility. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 15(1), 1–10.

Foucault, Michel. 1994[1966]. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. New York: Vintage. Pp. 3-17, 21-39.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,” The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, pp. 310-333.

Clifford, James. 1983. “On Ethnographic Authority,” Representations 2: 118-146.

Jackson, John L., Jr. 2012. “Ethnography Is, Ethnography Ain’t,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 480-497.

Fieldwork Assignment: Participant Observation


Week 3- 3/3: Preliminary Project Proposal Presentations


DQR, Introduction


Informal in-class presentation

  • Project ideas from each member of the class

- With evidence of having read DQR

  • Constructive feedback and idea sharing


  • Fieldwork activities for this class

- Methods for data collection

  • Expectations for Fieldwork activities

Fieldwork Assignment: Interview- notes only


Week 4- 3/10: Discussion/ Presentation on Fieldnotes Assignment


DQR Chapter 4: The What of the Study

Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of  Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Chapter 1 and 2, plus exercises- bring writing to class)


Informal in-class presentations

  • Describe your ‘fieldwork’ encounters so far

- Share successes and challenges

    • technical, personal, interpersonal

- Share ideas for next time

  • Constructive feedback




Fieldwork Assignment: Deep Description- real-time


Week 5- 3/17: Making Subjects, Intersubjects, and Fieldwork Relationships


DQR, Chapter 2: Qualitative Research Genres

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2002. The Bachelors’ Ball: The Crisis of Peasant Society in Bearn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Read Part 1

Pels, Peter. 2014. “After Objectivity: An historical approach to the intersubjective in ethnography,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4(1): 211-236.


Additional Suggested Readings:

Greenberg, Ofra. 1993. When They Read What the Papers Say We Wrote. In, When They Read What We Write: The Politics of Ethnography. Caroline B. Brettell, ed. Westport: Bergin & Garvey.

Rabinow, Paul. 1977. Reflections on Fieldwork in Morrocco. Berkeley: University of California Press (Chapter 3: Ali, an outsider’s insider).


Fieldwork Assignment: Participant Observation – Event with Video


Week 6- 3/24: Sites: Choosing and Navigating (5-page Proposal Outline Due)


Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson. 1997. Discipline and Practice: The field as site, method and location in anthropology. In Anthropological locations Berkeley: University of California Press. 1-46.

Borneman, John and Abdellah Hammoudi, eds. 2009. Being There: The Fieldwork Encounter and the Making of Truth. Blackwell Publishing (introduction and chapter 5).

Marcus, George E. 1995. “Ethnography In/Of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-sited Ethnography,” Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95-117.


Class discussion:

            What have your fieldwork exercises taught you about the dynamic space of field sites?

Fieldwork Assignment: Mapping- spatial representation


Week 7- 3/31: Proposal Presentations (Ethics On-line course completion certificate)


DQR, Chapter 6: Basic Data Collection Methods


Discuss In-class Proposal Presentations

  • Purpose – what do you want to achieve with this research?

- Conceptual Framework – What questions are you asking?

- Related literature and studies -- What theories are you using?

  • Significance – what will this project contribute?


Fieldwork Assignment: Kinship/Relationship charts


Week 8- 4/7: Fieldwork Ethics


DQR, Chapter 3: Trustworthiness and Ethics

Lambek, Michael, Veena Das, Didier Fassin, and Webb Keane. 2017. Four Lectures on Ethics: Anthropological Perspectives. Hau Books.

Das: What Does Ordinary Ethics Look Like?

Sluka, Jeffrey A. 1996. Reflections on Managing Danger in Fieldwork: Dangerous Anthropology in Belfast. In, Fieldwork under fire. Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius C.G.M. Robben, ed. University of California Press.


Fieldwork Assignment: Interview – audio recording only


Week 9- 4/14: Mid-term Proposal Presentations


Week 10 and 11: Theories

Week 10- 4/21


DQR, [review] Chapter 4: The What of the Study: Building the Conceptual Framework

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2002. The Bachelors’ Ball: The Crisis of Peasant Society in Bearn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Part III


Fieldwork Assignment: Deep Description - photograph


Week 11- 4/28


Fortun, Kim. 2012. “Ethnography in Late Industrialism,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 446-464.

Haraway, D. 1988. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies 14 (3):575–599.

Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of  Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Chapter 5, plus exercises- bring writing to class)


Additional Readings:

Taussig, Michael. 2012. “Excelente Zona Social,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 498-517.

Butler; J. 1988. Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Theatre Journal 40 (4):519.


Class Discussion:

What are you learning from your fieldwork? Do your observations of daily life give you any insights into your research question?


Fieldwork Assignment: Recap assessment – Questions answered/New questions


Week 12 and 13: Writing

Preparation Draft Proposal for Peer Review (Due week 13)


Week 12- 5/5


DQR, Chapter 5: The How of the Study: Building the Research Design

Hastrup, K. 2004. Getting it right: Knowledge and evidence in anthropology. Anthropological Theory 4/4 455-472.


Fieldwork Assignment: Interview- audio recording and notes


Week 13- 5/12


Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Chapter 4, plus exercises – bring writing to class)


Additional Suggested readings

Fabian, J. 1983. Time and writing about the other, in Time and the Other.

Comaroff and Comaroff. 1992. Ethnography and the historical imagination. In, Studies in the ethnographic imagination. Westview press.


Fieldwork Assignment: Group Discussion (get a partner)


Week 14- 5/19 Funding and Proposal Writing

Draft Proposal for Peer Review:

On the first day of class next week bring a draft of your proposal. You will share this with one of your colleagues who will return it with comments next week.



Come to class with at least three possible funding sources for your research


In-class Discussion

Finding and winning funds for research

  • Where to look

  • How to tailor your proposal for different funding streams

    • Reading calls for proposals

    • Speaking the language of the funder

    • Giving them what they want

Peer Review Discussion

        Research is never wholly produced by one person

        How to offer constructive critique on your colleague’s proposal

        Using the ECAA method of critique- evaluate its qualities

        Open the piece to comments from the group


Fieldwork Assignment: Participant Observation- social setting, head notes and notepad


Week 15- 5/26: Peer Review

Exchange papers with Peer Review partner

Review comments and discuss together

Re-Present individual proposals


Fieldwork Assignment: Textual analysis


Week 16- 6/2: Collecting and Organizing Data


DQR, Chapter 7: Specialized and Focused Data Collection Methods

Chapter 8: Managing, Analyzing, and Interpreting Data



Collect all your documents from observation activities for this class

Bring digitized versions to class



Work independently to code and organize your data

Work in groups to share experiences with data collection and management

Use examples from this course or any other

Present the findings of group-work to the seminar


Fieldwork Assignment: Researcher choice

Week 17-18-6/9-16: Proposal Presentations

Formal Proposal Presentations

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

5-Page Proposal: Pilot Field Study        (week 5)  20%

statement of the problem, background to the problem, methods to be employed, field site rationale, significance of the problem

Human Subjects Protocol       (week 6)           10%

Following university guidelines

Fieldwork Exercises        (each week)             20%

Conduct fieldwork one day per week and turn in typed fieldnotes for each week.

Include interview transcription, photographs, video, drawings, and/or voice recordings

Class Participation         (each class)              20%

Close readings of texts; active participation in class discussions and activities

10-Page Research Proposal   (final)                      20%

on the pilot research proposal (includes bibliography) 

Textbook & Reference

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2002. The Bachelors’ Ball: The Crisis of Peasant Society in Bearn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Marshall, Catherine and Gretchen B. Rossman. 2016. Designing Qualitative Research. Singapore: Sage Publications. (DQR)

Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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