An ethnographic report of the team
Fieldwork experience that reflexively demonstrates anthropological fluency in no more than 2000 words, not including references cited.
(ALTERNATIVE TO GROUP FIELDWORK ESSAY)
If the Group Fieldwork Project does not provide the needed data (or any other reason) for writing the ethnographic report, students may conduct the following assignment on language.
You have learned about the way that language intersects with issues of power and identity. Discussions of belonging and class are intertwined with language in debates over immigration and education in American society. More than just a system of symbols for communication, language is an arena where identities are constructed, power is negotiated, and cultural values are promoted. To analyze debates around immigration and English-only initiatives, you now have a set of tools and a framework to understand the issues underlying debates around language. For example, you may consider how English as a prestige language operates, or how individuals code-switch between languages. Or you may speak about language as a continuum, reflecting on how Mock Spanish reflects deeper forms of social stratification and race. Drawing from what you’ve learned in this course investigate issues of language and identity by examining speech communities in the city where you live
Research the range of languages that are spoken in the city or region in which you live. Find out the percentage of people who speak a language other than English using U.S. Census data or other resources.
Next, select at least three individuals (over 18 yrs. old) to interview who are not related to one another. At least two of them should be people who are either bilingual, speak English as a second language, or have relatives that speak a language other than English. Create four to six questions to ask each of your interviewees about their experiences speaking dialects of English or other languages. Be sure to come up with questions that will enable you to find out what types of speech communities to which they belong. Remember that ways of speaking can vary by gender, class, region, age, and ethnic background, among other factors.
Conduct the interviews, taking careful notes that describe how each of your interviewees thinks about issues of language, identity, and speech communities. If you can record it that will be best. Be sure to note their responses as well as their appearance, their body language and paralanguage, and their attire. Here are some questions to explore:
What were themes that were common to each of the people that you interviewed? What were key differences between the way that each person reflected on language and identity?
How did people think English was spoken in their communities? If they also spoke a second language, what was their experience? How did the ability to speak another language link them to particular subcultures or communities?
How might the interviewees’ opinions differ on the issues of immigration and debates over English-only policies?
How were the responses of your interviewees different from the way that you think about similar issues? What types of speech communities did they belong to that you do or do not share?
How did the respondents’ age, gender, or ethnic background play a role in their answers?
What new questions were raised for you regarding thinking about how power, identity, and language intersect? How would you set up a project in the future?
Use this data as the topical context for your demonstration of anthropological fluency and addressing the criteria of the Essay’s rubric.
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