Critical Ethnography Experience
Overview: Time to get out of our cultural comfort zones and cultivate your critical lens and ethnographic eye. This assignment asks you to enhance your ethnographic skills and intercultural understanding through participating and observing in a formal or non-formal education context for at least three hours with members of cultural group different than your own. Based on Spradley’s (1997) framework, you will be asked to observe the explicit and implicit “rules,” cultural artifacts, cultural behaviors, and cultural meanings in operation in that cultural context. Also, you will be required to take field notes during and after your participant observation. Please pass your “education” site by me prior to beginning your cultural difference experience (paragraph description of your choice of a site, your reason for selecting the site, and how it reflects a cultural very different from your own is due on Week 3).
Choosing a Site: You are required to choose a site where people are culturally (language, ethnicity, race, class, gender, religious, sexual orientation, ideology, exceptionality, etc.) different from you. Choose sites that take you far out of your cultural comfort zone. For example, if you are Christian, you may want to attend a local meditation and dharma discussion at a Zen Center. Or, if you are a monolingual European American, you may want to spend time in a Latino community site. You could volunteer at a center for immigrants here in Northern Colorado. If you know little about blind or hearing impaired cultures, you could volunteer in local social service agencies that serve these populations or spend a day at a school for the blind, as one student did in Denver recently. Sites must be chosen according to a “difference” criteria and must be approved by the instructor prior to your experience. In most contexts, you should announce to site members that you are doing a classroom assignment for one of your courses at Colorado State University. (Examples of past field sites include: participation in a U.S. citizenship course; a day working with facilities and grounds personnel or custodial personnel at CSU; attend classes at Buddhist meditation center; spend a day with a person with special needs; attend services at a Mosque; tribal belly dance drum circles; experience hosting an international student in one’s home for a month; attend a gun show; spend a day at an Historically Black College or University (HBCU), etc.)
Field Note Taking: Spradley (1997) maintains that to understand a culture we must understand:
· what people do----cultural behaviors
· what people know----cultural knowledge
· things people make and use----cultural artifacts (p. 21).
During (or immediately after) your 6-hour educational site experiences, you should take copious notes concerning your observations of the above three categories: cultural behaviors, cultural knowledge, and cultural artifacts. What is ...