All instructions are shown in the attached. Irvine Valley College Cultural Anthropology 2—Honors Ethnography Project Project: Ethnography

All instructions are shown in the attached.

Irvine Valley College

Cultural Anthropology 2—Honors

Ethnography Project

Project: Ethnography Evaluation

Paper Points:

Due Date: (See the Appendix A module or the syllabus for the date)

Recommended length:
9-11 Pages


This class features a
writing project, which is
based the reading of an ethnography. I have a few goals for this project. First off, I’d like to expose you all to some
interesting anthropological studies on
important social issues. I’d also like to give you the opportunity to
delve deeply into a topic (introductory classes like this on cover a lot of ground, but we generally can’t go into great depth in any one area, given the amount of material we must cover). Finally,
I want to give you a taste of what upper division and graduate classes are like.

As you finish your general ed classes, things like multiple-choice tests start becoming less common.
More and more you will instead be asked to evaluate the work of professionals in your field of study. In other words, reading, writing, and especially critical thinking come to the fore. Hopefully this project will help you to develop the analytical and technical skills you will need in future classes.

Why an Ethnography?

The late David Graeber (an anthropologist whose work we will be reading in this class) believed that, in the end,
Cultural Anthropology’s most important contribution to human knowledge is the ethnography, the detailed written (or filmed) descriptions and evaluations of cultural practices, many of which would be lost to history were it not for the anthropological fieldworker. I agree with Graeber on this point and feel that for ours to truly be an “Honors” class in-depth engagement with ethnography must be part of the curriculum.

Also, I wanted this class to have a serious writing project, but I didn’t want this to be a traditional research paper. The main reason for this is that most students will be asked to write quite a few of these during their time in school and I wanted to give you all a break from a task that, since you’re asked to do it so often, can get a bit boring. In other words, I wanted to mix things up, give you all a change of pace, while still offering a project I feel will be challenging and have significant of educational value.

The Project

This project is structurally a simple one with two main components.
I will give you a choice of ethnographies. You
choose and acquire the one that most interests you. You will read it, and then
write a detailed description and evaluation of it, (using a structure I will discuss in the next section).

Ethnography Choices


I have decided to limit your choices to
four ethnographies, which are listed and described below. I have chosen these ethnographies because they address a diverse group of cultures and events, which hopefully means that all of you will find at least one of these books interesting. They also address important issues that, indirectly at least, extend far beyond the cultural group(s) in question, which will hopefully tie them into your lives in a meaningful way beyond the goals of this project and class.

The reason I am limiting things to four choices had to do with our class’s small size (honors anthropology classes usually allow a max of only 20 students). An important part of this project is your intellectual engagement with other students. For this to work we need at least four students doing the same ethnography—we don’t have enough students to make a larger number of books work.

Choosing Your Ethnography

Once you have decided on the ethnography you’d like to do, come talk to me before or after class to inform me of your choice. I likely will allow no more than five students to do each ethnography. So, if there’s a book you really want to do, I’d advise letting me know as early in the semester as possible, before that group fills.

Because each ethnography can be done by only five students
, I would like everybody to give me both a first and second choice—I need to know the ethnography would you like to do if your first choice is no longer available.

Acquiring Your Ethnography

After you have chosen your ethnography, it is up to you to acquire it.

These books are available thru on-line sources (such as Amazon or eBay), most for reasonable prices (at least when compared textbook prices). In some cases, there are on-line versions or used copies that can save you some money. You can of course check them out from a library, if you can find them there.

The Ethnographies

Below, are short descriptions of the ethnographies you will be choosing from. I will also be discussing these during our project’s in-class seminar.

Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society

Lila Abu-Lughod

University of California Press

2016 (1987)

This is generally considered the be a
major classic in twentieth century ethnography. It examines the lives of
Bedouin women in western Egypt, largely thru
their culture’s traditions of oral poetry. It gives a deep and, I’d say, fascinating portrait of ways of life largely unknown by outsiders.

If you are interested in
Bedouin or
Islamic cultures and/or
gender studies, this ethnography could be a good choice for you.

This is a book I read in graduate school, and it is the oldest ethnography here (it was originally published in 1987 and is based on fieldwork done in the 1970s and 80s). But I don’t think it’s aged much at all.



There are a number of ways to approach a writing project such as this one, but I am going to ask you to work within
a four-part framework. I am not doing this to restrict your creativity (there are all sorts of different ways to approach things within this structure), but to head off certain problems.

During my time as a student, I wrote dozens of these kinds of papers—and I figured what works and what doesn’t; by the time my graduate-school days were coming to an end, I could bang out an A+ paper of this sort in an evening, if necessary. So, my goal here is to introduce you to what I developed: a pretty much idiot-proof vehicle (and believe me, I needed one!) for these sorts of evaluations that you likely will be able to use in many classes to come.

General Format

I would like you write this paper using the following four-part structure.

I. Introduction

In this section you introduce your ethnography. You will be telling the reader
the book’s name and
its author’s name. You should also state
who published it and its
publication date. This also the section where you give a
basic description of the peoples/regions/questions the book examines. In other words,
you will basically be telling the reader what you are going to be writing about, which will set up the paper’s following section.

Length: To be successful,
this section needs to be concise. I recommend it be
no longer than a page. If it’s longer than this, you’re probably including material that should be in the following section.

II. Description

This is where you summarize your ethnography, give an in-depth description of what you have read. For some of you this will be a little difficult. In a handful of pages, you need to summarize an entire, and at times, complex scholarly work.
I consider this to be the most challenging part of this assignment. Key to critical thinking is understanding what the most important parts are of what’s being evaluated. Figuring out how to distil an entire book in this manner is a great way to help develop these skills.

Hint—When readers are done with this section they should feel almost as if they’ve read the book themselves.

Length: This should be the
longest section of the paper. I recommend it be
6-7 pages.

III. Evaluation

In this section you evaluate the ethnography. What do you think were its good points? Are there areas where it wasn’t successful? Is its analysis sound, consistent, etc.? You should
go into depth here and
give examples to back up your opinions.

you should not be bringing in any new information at this point. If it wasn’t a part of your summary in the previous section, you shouldn’t refer to it—this most likely will confuse the reader and weaken the larger points you are trying to make. If information is important enough to play a role in your critique it should have been included in the previous summary section.

Length: For most of you this section will run about
2-3 pages.

IV. Conclusion

This section should tie everything together, while summarizing the major points of the paper. You can do this in many ways, but as with the previous section, no new information should be added.

Length: As with your Introduction, this should be short.
If it goes on for more than a page it’s probably too long.

Graphics and Cover Page


The cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is quite true. Graphics add a lot to a paper, and I have some specific requirements as to what I want in this area.

I would like you to include
at least one photo of the people (cultural group) your ethnography is examining and
at least
one that shows the landscape (environment) they occupy.

I would also like you to have
at least one map of the general region your ethnography covers.

Make you sure
cite where your graphics come from. I recommend doing this by writing the web site you got each from as part of the caption beneath it. (Don’t worry—adding captions to pictures in Word is easy).

Graphics should be embedded in appropriate places in the body of the paper. Don’t just bunch them up in one place—that largely defeats the purpose of having them.

Also, make sure your graphics have enough pixels to be useable. Blurry photos definitely detract from a paper.

Cover Page

Your paper needs to have a cover page.
I would like you all to have a title for your paper; this should be on the cover page.

Also, the cover page should feature
title of your ethnography and the
name of its author. It should also have
your name on the
name/number of our class.

highly recommend including a
graphic of some sort on the cover page. I’ve noticed a lot of students like to use a picture of the ethnography’s cover for this, which is quite effective. Other representative pictures can work fine as well.

General Formatting Requirements

This paper should employ the following:


Font: Please use one of the following font types—
Times/ Times New Roman, or

I don’t care which of these you use. The reason I want you to use one of these is that sometimes Canvas has trouble reading certain font types, which can cause it to reformat documents. I have found that Canvas works well with the ones I have listed here (they are also all quite readable).

Font Size:

Fonts are sized differently, so you’ll need to figure out which size looks best with the font you’ve chosen. For example, I like to use 11 or 12 with Times, but if I’m using Calibri, I prefer 10 or 11. You make the call on this one.

Font Color: Please use only

Margins and Footers & Headers: Just
stick with Word’s default sizes for these. They work well for pretty much any paper you will write in school.

Citations and Bibliography

You will need to
cite information from your ethnography, just as you would with a source in any other paper. I recommend using
MLA formatting for this, but if you’re more comfortable with another system you may use it (so long as it’s done correctly!).

Even if you only cite from your ethnography, I would still like you to have a bibliography (work cited page) at the end of your paper.


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