GET: Mini-Ethnographies

Further to Adam’s post on writing suggestions for the GET mini-ethnographies here are some more detailed guidelines.

At its most simplistic, an ethnography (noun version) is a written account of a culture based on first hand interaction. It is an attempt to both understand and give an account of another culture from the “native’s” point of view—that is from the view of the person living in that culture. Ethnographies tend to cover all aspects of a culture from traditions, to family, to religion, etc. For this paper you are going to write a “mini” ethnography. You are expected to use the information you gained through first-hand interaction with your partner(s) and their classmates to write a short ethnographic account about a particular aspect of your partner’s culture. You may write on any aspect of your partner country’s culture that you choose, but keep in mind, since you must get the information from your partner and his/her classmates, it must be something that they are willing to talk about.

For this paper, you should explore the topic of your choice in depth. To get the information you need, you, as the ethnographer, must use ethnographic inquiry to get the information required. That is, ask your partner and his/her classmates lots of questions about the topic. When they answer those questions, ask them to further explain and elaborate. The idea behind this is to get a good understanding of not just what is going on in the other society, but why it is the way it is. You will be able to do some of this through your chat sessions and video linking, but e-mail interaction will also be an important tool for this task.

The paper will be no longer than 3 (double-spaced) pages. Here is a general guideline for the format of the paper—keep in mind, these are only guidelines:

  • General introduction to topic and country (1 -2 paragraphs)
  • Descriptive and explanatory account of the topic in question. (1.5 – 2 pages): What is going on here? Why is this important? How do they explain it? What does it mean to them?
  • Reflection and Conclusion (1 – 1.5 pages)How does this particular topic you covered help us understand their culture in general? How does it compare to what you are used to?

Once you complete your paper submit a copy to your T.A.  and send a copy to your partner (be sure to CC your T.A. on this e-mail). Your partner should then write a short response to your paper (a few paragraphs is fine—this can be done through e-mail) in which they evaluate your paper and explain what parts you got right and what parts you misunderstood or need clarification. Your professor will also provide you with feedback. Once you get this feedback, you are then to rewrite your original paper to address the issues your partner and T.A. raised and resubmit that final draft along with your partner’s comments to your T.A.