TOPIC: AMERICAN KINSHIP
AND GENDER ROLE
1. Select someone over age 50 to interview at length. We call this person your “informant,” i.e. someone who tells you about some aspect of his/her life experiences, thus giving you a particular “native” view of broader issues or tendencies in his/her culture (or multicultural world). We suggest that you find someone in your family or friendship circle, a person with whom you have good rapport and sympathy, or someone whose life you find compelling and illustrative of an anthropological question or aspect of American society.
2. INCLUDE A THESIS AND A CONCLUSION YOU DRAW FROM THE INTERVIEW. Did you initial view changed after the interview?
3. record the informant’s overall story, main topics, key ideas, unexpected issues, selected phrases, etc.; your observations of the informant; YOUR REFLECTIONS, and running INTERPRETATION of the informant’s experiences or life story in relation to larger patterns, norms, or issues in American life.
4. Do not simply give a verbatim report of the interview; you must take analyze what is said and relate that to your own anthropological grasp of changes in American society
5. Please take into account: the development of a good sense of how an individual’s experiences reflect and are refracted through the events, changes, and cultural beliefs and practices of our country.
What are your research questions? You must have a sense of the problem you wish to explore, and a set of questions. This can be something as simple as: What gender norms shaped my mother’s choices and decisions when she was growing up? How does she reflect on those norms now, in relation to her children and American society at large? What do her experiences overall tell us about cultural conformity, gender and class, the subtle workings of patriarchal power in that era of American history? Are these values and norms still powerful though less obvious in American life?
Writing-Up the Paper: write 4 page paper that explores in an analytical way the anthropological themes that are illuminated by this one interview. What did you hear and observe? What patterns of behavior did you recognize? Why do you think the informant behave the way he/she does in the situation disclosed in the interview? What did you learn that surprised you? Did your initial questions get answered in a way that satisfied you? Would other kinds of questions have elicited a different account? What questions are raised by your foray into thinking, observing, and interpreting like anthropologist?
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