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Applied Ethnographic Research Methods

ANTH 410/510 - Spring 2015


Welcome to Applied Ethnographic Research Methods (i.e., Anthropological Research Methods).  I am Rodney Frey, your instructor.  My office is in Phinney Hall, Rm.116, with office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays 9:30 to 12:00, or by appointment.  You can contact me at:

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Course Description: The intent of this course is to provide the student with the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully design, conduct, document and present an applied, qualitative-based, ethnographic or historical archaeological research project.  Students will organize themselves into appropriate research units, as either a single researcher or as a team, and select potential topic and potential collaborative partner in the community.  Project topics can range from a life-history of a local resident or relative, to the history of a local building.   The collaborative partner could be a host community agency, organization, business, family member, and/or individual.  In dialogue with the partner, students will design and execute an applied, qualitatively-based, research project that will benefit the host partner community, personage, or domain.  Emphasis will be placed on developing and applying research competencies in interviewing and participant-observation data gathering, as well as archival and material culture research, along with interpretative and writing skills.  The culminating research and any accompanying recommendations will be shared with the host community, agency, or individual, who will, in turn, critique that research.

Students will explore and gain an appreciation of the ethical considerations and parameters of doing research with human populations and presenting that research to the public. Of special note will be consideration of intellectual and cultural property rights of host communities.

Acknowledging epistemological and ethical extensions from and implications of research, consideration will also be given to the various modes of presenting research, from publication in journals to teaching pedagogy in a classroom. 

The course attempts to integrate creative and analytical thinking, basic research design and data gathering, interpretative and explanatory writing and video presentation with the value of doing collaborative and applied, ethnographic and/or historical archaeological projects all within ethically-grounded context.

The over-arching objective of this course is the acknowledgment by the student of the epistemological relationships between what you seek to know (i.e., the focus of  your research ) and how you go about that knowing (i.e., your methodology), and the ability of the student to appropriately apply that relationship in the doing of anthropology.  Key question: How do we go about accessing  and then telling someone else’s story, when that story is predicated on an ontology and epistemology fundamentally distinct from that of our own, with making their story our own?


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Grading Distribution: Your final grade will be based upon the total points earned. For undergraduate students, there are two exams (each worth 45 points, for a total of 90 points); the project (10 points possible for the proposal, 20 points possible for the presentation and 70 points possible for the paper itself, for a total of 100 points); and discussion, exercises and reflective writes (10 points).  For graduate students, there are two exams (each worth 30 points, for a total of 60 points); the project (10 points possible for the proposal, 20 points possible for the presentation and 70 points possible for the paper itself, for a total of 100 points);  the lecture/presentation (for a total of 30 points); and discussion, exercises and reflective writes (10 points). The following scale will determine your grade: 180-200 (90%-100%) = A, 160-179 (80%-89%) = B, 140-159 (70%-79%) = C, 120-139 (60%-69%) = D

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