- Class Number 3286
- Term Code 2930
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- Simone Dennis
- Simone Dennis
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 25/02/2019
- Class End Date 31/05/2019
- Census Date 31/03/2019
- Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
- Andrew Leary
- Dr Jacqueline Hoepner
- Rebecca Hendershott
Through ethnographic methods, anthropologists examine a wide range of phenomena including medicine, the media, popular culture, indigenity, minority groups, law and the environment, along with many other areas. They do so by situating these topics within their broader cultural contexts, and closely examining taken for granted assumptions and ideas about them. Ethnographic information is collected over long periods of time, among the people the anthropologist wants to study. On the basis of long term and in depth engagement, anthropologists are able to arrive at very specific cultural understandings of the world, which differ from conventional, assumed and even stereotypical or ethnocentric understandings.
This course looks at how anthropologists think about these topics, and how they carry out research. You will learn about anthropological styles of thinking, how to ask research questions, how to link up questions with methods, how to undertake methods to get data, and how to do basic data analysis.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate foundational disciplinary knowledge of anthropology.
- Appraise the theoretical ambitions of anthropology and their worth in the contemporary world.
- Engage with and examine everyday topics with a new and anthropological focus.
- Discuss and pose anthropological questions.
- Apply basic anthropological research methods and analysis.
Students will be given feedback orally and in writing at all assignment stages.
ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
Notes for production of work
- 1.5 spacing
- Justified margins.
- Font size 12: Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, etc. Something easy for us to read.
- Page numbers (we don’t care where on the page).
- We don’t mind if you print on both sides of the paper.
- Do not use Wikipedia or other non-specific materials that have no disciplinary value.
- Your analytic sources should be academic. Ensure web sources are reliable and valid; if in doubt, ask us.
- Ensure that you go outside the supplied sources to get your information when producing written assessment work.
- Think of keywords that refer to your topic, and search those to get sources that match up to your task.
- Anthropology Plus can be helpful. To get there go to the ANU library home page. You’ll see e-resources and databases – click on this link. Click A. Scroll down to the second page of A, and you’ll see Anthropology Plus. There is a space to type in keywords. Type in your keywords. If you are working from home, remember to use the reverse proxy login so you can search and download. Anthropology Plus also appears as a link on the Wattle homepage.
- Anthrosource is also available. To get to it, follow the same procedures for above. You can search particular journals in this site.
In your paper, use in-text author date:
For your references:
Dennis, S. 2010. Things to know about anthropology. Journal of Knowing Things. V, 30. no. 5. pp. 23-560.
Dennis, S. 2010. Anthropology: I like it. London: Verso.
Name of site, date of production of material on site (if you know it), author name (if there is one) date accessed.
- Organise your references alphabetically. Do not number references.
- Only those sources you refer to in the body of your paper should appear in the reference list. Do not list sources that do not appear in your paper. Do not over-format (i.e., no bolding, underlining, etc. in the reference list).
- If you are using journals on line, reflect them in your reference list as though they were paper sources. That is how they will appear on line, unless you are using a solely online journal. In that case, there should be an instruction on how this source should be cited – use that.
- Don’t split your references up into types – keep them together and alphabetise.
- Are you going to be using materials, like newspapers, archival info, web info, television, radio? If you do, remember these must be treated as research materials, or data to analyse, NOT analytic materials in themselves.
- We want between 5-10 references for reflection and essay pieces.
- All quotes must be accompanied by page number.
- Ensure quotes are worked into your sentence structure.
- If you want to emphasis part of a quote, italicise it and add, after your citation info: my emphasis
- Use footnotes to tell your reader about a related, but not central, idea. If the idea is central, it should be in your text.
- Use footnotes to alert us to wider debates that your topic belongs in, but that do not have a specific place in your essay.
- Do not overuse footnotes (don’t put an essay within an essay).
- Exclude footnotes from your word count.
Producing an anthropology essay: reading and writing critically
The very first thing to know about approaching writing and reading in anthropology is that there are not many answers to anthropological questions. Few issues in anthropology have been neatly tied up and put to rest. You won't find many generally accepted 'answers', and there are no single authorities who can tell you all you need to know. This means that we expect your essays to demonstrate not just factual knowledge but also some ability to present and assess arguments and counter-arguments about particular problems.
This should tell you right away that when you read or write in the discipline, you will not be looking for facts that are ‘true’ or ‘right’, but instead for the ways in which observations and insights of the social world might be interpreted. It helps to remember that anthropology is not so much a unified body of knowledge as it is a constant and ongoing (and exciting) tension between conflicting ideas.
This is the reason why your lecturers and tutors in the discipline will encourage you to read widely, and to read critically. This is the best way to discover that much of the discipline consists of debate and argument over how and according to what perspective observations of and insight into the social world can be interpreted. Anthropology is a dialectical, ongoing production of ideas.
Reading critically does not mean reading to find fault, or pitting prominent anthropologists against one another to decide who is right. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that reading and writing critically means that you have to make statements that rubbish all theoreticians working in the area of concern to your essay. It means following the author’s argument, and the theoretical framework it comes from, and assessing that argument against the material that she or he is using to support it. Does it make assumptions that are not borne out in the material? Are there gaps or leaps in the logic? Now that you understand the argument the author is trying to make, and the material she or he is using in support of it, does it convince you? Why/not? It is only after you have read a variety of texts on a particular topic or problem that you can appreciate the main approaches that are made to it, and start thinking about your own position.
That a variety of interpretations can be put forward does not mean that any interpretation can be put forward – all the interpretations that are put forward proceed on the basis of validity. But some approaches and arguments you read will convince you more than others. When you read critically, you can come to the conclusion that one way of interpreting something is more valid than another way, and you will be able to say why you think so.
Writing critically means bringing this ‘why I think so’ to bear on the question you have been asked to respond to in your essay. For instance, it is not enough to give us a literature review of the positions that anthropologists have come up with on a particular topic or problem. Familiarity with the literature is essential – but it is not nearly enough on its own. Your essay is precisely that – yours. It must be based on your own thinking, in response to the critical reading that you have done (in and through which you will have developed your own opinion on approaches and arguments in the existing literature). This should give you a bit of a hint also to how many direct quotations and paraphrasing should be in your essay -- extensive quotation or paraphrase will not tell your marker much about your thinking on the matter.
Remember that no one in the discipline expects you to come up with a new and original insight into the essay topic – this is not what is meant by writing critically here. The main evidence we look for of critical writing is a considered evaluation of how the main thinking (as it is expressed in key readings) in the area of concern to your essay impacts on the problem or topic you are dealing with, and your considered opinion on that bearing. A really good way of ensuring you do this is to compare and contrast the work of the main writers.
Giving your own opinion does not mean that you have to decide whose work is the best. It might mean that you argue that a particular theoretician’s work is more fruitful for understanding a specific situation:
‘Where Mary Douglas’s work offers insights into the ways in which the body and the world mirror each other, it cannot tell us much about how they influence one another. Jackson’s insights about metaphor, however, directly link person with world, and allow a focus on movement and interaction’.
Saying this does not mean that Mary Douglas’s work should be summarily disregarded; rather, it is not as useful as Jackson’s work for considering the moving relationship between person and world in the case being considered.
You might also not end up deciding between entire interpretations – you might decide that some elements of one theoretician’s work are really useful for making an understanding of the topic you are considering, as are some elements of another. The key is to ensure you understand the argument being made, and its application the material of interest to you, and what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of that.
You might find, after having read widely and critically, that you favour a particular approach. Favouring an approach does not mean that you have been uncritical. It does mean that you have to say why this approach is so very good for understanding the topic at hand. Again, it is bringing that ‘why I think so’ to bear on your writing. In cases where you do favour a particular approach, it is very important to remember that direct quotation and paraphrase will not be sufficient on their own, as you’ll likely find gems that are just what you want to say. In these cases, you must remember to explain why this is such a good approach, rather than simply seeking to demonstrate that it is.
General Assessment Criteria
A PASS paper will indicate that the student has not quite understood yet some of the key ideas and concepts taught in this course. The question addressed or the argument the student is mounting in the piece might be acceptable, but not compelling. If methods are involved, the methods will be appropriate methods, and the student will have been able to give some basic, but not sophisticated, reasons for their choices. Chosen sources will be appropriate to the task, but might show that a limited or basic search has been conducted, or that the sources have not been explored to the extent they might have been.
A CREDIT paper is one that demonstrates that the student can make a compelling and appropriate question, argument. If methods are used, the methods will have the capacity to reveal much about the situation they are being applied to, and the student may have given compelling reasons for their inclusion based on their suitability to the research. Chosen references will show a good understanding of the relevant literature, and will show that considerable effort has gone into the search for appropriate literature. The literature will be anthropologically based for the most part, and there will not be confusion as to what constitutes a relevant disciplinary source.
A DISTINCTION paper will express that the student is able to give convincing, compelling arguments and raise questions that are sophisticated and well developed. If methods are involved, the methods will be highly appropriate to the task, and compelling reasons for their inclusion will be given, based on their suitability to the planned research. There may also be some sense of why other methods were considered but excluded, or why some methods are more suited than others for particular reasons. Choice of references will show a developed understanding of the included sources, will show that very considerable effort has gone into the search for appropriate literature, and will evidence a broad research imagination.
A HIGH DISTINCTION paper will showcase a lively, critical approach. The student will have been able to give convincing, compelling and nuanced arguments. The methods will be highly appropriate to the task, and compelling reasons for their inclusion will be given, based on their suitability to the planned research. There will also be some sustained discussion as to the selection of these methods that will be of excellent quality. References will show a highly developed understanding of the included sources, will show that great effort has gone into the search for appropriate literature, and will evidence a broad and critical research imagination.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||Introduction to the course structure and assessment. Anthropology: The making of uncommon sense||Tutorial Questions and Readings No tutorials are scheduled for week 1. Make sure you are signed up for a tutorial, that you know what room it is in and that you have access to the online reading materials for this course. No readings assigned this week.|
|2||What is distinctive about anthropology? Introducing the key concerns of anthropology and the underpinnings of the discipline – what can we use anthropology to explore?||Tutorial Questions and Readings What are some of the general things we could say about what anthropology is? Try your hand at explaining it. What questions do you have about what anthropology is? Ask your tutor. Durrenberger, P.& S.Erem. 2010. Chapter One: Science Basics. In their Anthropology Unbound: A field guide to the 21st Century (2nd edition). London: Paradigm Publishers. pp. 5-9. Gay y Blasco, P. and H. Wardle 2007. Introduction: The concerns and distinctiveness of ethnography. How to Read Ethnography. OX.: Routledge pp. 1-12.|
|3||Doing anthropology Applying anthropological methods: being there, taking note. Taking ethnographic field notes, doing life history interviews. How do anthropologists do anthropology?||Tutorial Questions and Readings What are some of the key aspects and issues of ‘being there’ for anthropologists? What are some of the basic elements of taking fieldnotes? Why are these elements fundamental to anthropological work and analysis? Wolcott, H.F. 1995. Fieldwork: The basic arts. The Art Of Fieldwork. CA.: AltaMira Press pp. 86-121.|
|4||Ceremonies, performances, public events, rituals Why would anthropologists look at public events, ceremonies and rituals? Anthropology of death How do anthropologists look at death?||Tutorial Questions and Readings Why would an anthropologist be interested in a christening, a coming of age party, an exorcism, or a Christmas parade? And what about death? There’s lots to think about regarding death contemporary debates on the politics of death, what constitutes the moment of death and what happens after, as well as investigate the political lives of dead bodies. corpses, organ donation, end-of-life care, and concepts of biopolitics and bare life. Van Gennep, A. 1972. Betrothal and Marriage. The Rites of Passage. Chicago: Chicago University Press pp. 116-145. Turner, V. 1967. Betwixt and Between: The liminal period in rites de passage. Forest of Symbols: aspects of Ndembu Ritual Ithaca: Cornell UP pp. 93-111. Handelman, D. 1990 Premises and Prepositions. Models and Mirrors: Towards and Anthropology of Public Events N.Y.: Berghahn Books pp. 3-21. Kaufman, S. and L. Morgan, 2005. The Anthropology of the Beginnings and Ends of Life. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. (34):317-341. Lock, M. Death in Technological Time: Locating the End of Meaningful Life. 1996. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(4):575-600.|
|5||Kinship 1 In HOUR 1: I’ll introduce you to ideas about why kinship used to be important in anthropology, and why it is now, and some basics in kinship. In hour 2::we’ll have a special guest to try out our skills on – he’s a senior Ngunawal elder, and lots of people have taken kinship diagrams on him!||Tutorial Questions and Readings Why was kinship so important to the discipline early in its history? In tutes, you can start to learn how to take a kinship diagram and we’ll reflect on our experience with our special guest and discuss the readings on kinship provided. We’ll also consider: Why is kinship important now? Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1940. Introductory--Chapter 1: Interest in Cattle in his The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pp.1-50. Evans-Pritchard, E.E. 1940 Chapter V: The Lineage System in his The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pp.192-248. Erikson, P. & L. Murphy, 2003. British Social Anthropology in their A History of Anthropological Theory. Ontario: Broadview Press pp. 100-111. + from textbook Carter, Anthony T., 2007.Review of Carsten’s After Kinship Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 80, Number 2 pp. 581-583. Carsten, J., 2007. Constitutive Knowledge: Tracing Trajectories of Information in New Contexts of Relatedness Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 80, Number 2, pp. 403-426. Yngvesson, B., 2007. Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 80, Number 2, pp. 561-579.|
|6||Guest lectures||No tutes today. Instead, gain tutorial participation marks by submitting a question you would put to the presenter/s. Submit your question to email@example.com|
|7||Anthropology is all about living into the lives of people under study for extended periods of time and trying to generate uncommon knowledge about those lives. Sounds invasive – what ethical issues come up? Today we’re going to get hands-on again with some information about anthropological ethics, and some tests of your knowledge.||Tutorial Questions and Readings Ethics Hypotheticals. Your tutors will ask your opinions on the ethical hypothetical cases you looked at in your reading this week. Ethics hypothetical To access the cases we will be using, open the following hyperlink: http://www.aaanet.org/commitees/ethics/ch3.htm|
|8||Anthropology of food Are you food secure? Are you sure? Understanding food taboos Networks of power||Tutorial Questions and Readings How do you eat in prison? Bring something in a packet or can – some prepared food that you could get out of a vending machine or as a snack. We’re going to see how prison inmates might make themselves a meal out of these items – I don’t know if anyone will be brave enough to eat our concoctions, though! Cate, S. 2008. Breaking Bread with a Spread in a San Francisco County Jail. Gastronomica (3):17-24. Rock, M. et al. 2009. Discomforting comfort foods: stirring the pot on Kraft Dinner and social inequality in Canada. Agric Hum. Values 26:167–176 Mintz, S. and C. DuBois. 2002. The Anthropology of Food and Eating Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. 31: 99-119|
|9||Anthropology and Animals Using the lens of the animal to think about anthropology Special focus on watching animals – be prepared to rethink notions of animals as entirely heterosexual! What could this tell us about our own notions of nature and how its laws are applied to persons?||Tutorial Questions and Readings Animals offer insight into the discipline, and into the lives of human animals. How could your relations to animals give you a perspective onto yourself and your culture? Are animals your kin? What’s distinctive about animals and humans? Anything? Geertz, C.1973. "Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" in The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, 1973. Harris. M. 1978 The Origin of the Sacred Cow. Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures. Glasgow: William Collins pp. 155-170.|
|10||Consumption and the Anthropology of Things Things, things things! We’re surrounded. What is the ‘anthropology of things’, and why do we need to look at material life?||Tutorial Questions and Readings What’s materiality got to do with agency? Miller, D. 1995. Consumption and Commodities. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. (24) :141-161. Miller, B. 2005. Consumption and Exchange. In Cultural Anthropology. Boston: Pearson: 79-103. Kopytoff, I. 1986. The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process. In A. Appadurai (ed.) The Social Life of Things: commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge: CUP: 64-91.|
|11||Medicine, public health and anthropology Obesity, smoking, drinking, -- all the good stuff||Tutorial Questions and Readings What insights can anthropology make into public health? What assumptions are made about the agent? Keane, H. 2009. Intoxication, harm and pleasure: an analysis of the Australian National Alcohol Strategy. Critical Public Health 19(2): 135-142. Warin, M. 2003. Miasmatic calories and saturating fats: fear of contamination in anorexia. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry (27):77-93. Kohrman, M., & P. Benson 2011. Tobacco. Annual Review of Anthropology (40): 329-344. Dennis, S. 2013. Golden Chocolate Olives tobacco packaging meets the smoker you thought you knew: the rational agent and new cigarette packaging legislation in Australia. Contemporary Drug Problems (40): 71-97.|
|12||Power and institutions and….sex! The university, institutions and our sexual lives Agency and culture , self and other Do individuals matter? Structure or agency||Tutorial Questions and Readings Bring along your Cosmo, Cleo, Dolly Doctor magazines – and your experiences of being in high school! We’ll examine them to see what evidence there is that institutions shape the conditions of life – even our intimate lives. We’ll also put our experiences at university under scrutiny – what kind of power is exerted here? Do you notice it? Do you notice it now? Is there any room for the individual??? Miller, D. 2009. Individuals and the Aesthetic of Order. In Anthropology and the Individual: a Material Culture perspective. Oxford: Berg. 3-24. Craciun, M. 2009. Trading in Fake Brands , self-creating as an individual. In Miller, D (ed.) Anthropology and the Individual: a Material Culture perspective. Oxford: Berg. 25-36. Rapport, N. 2011. The Liberal Treatment of Difference: An Untimely Meditation on Culture and Civilization. Current Anthropology, Vol. 52, No. 5 pp. 687-710. Please pay particular attention to the lecture on Bourdieu and Foucault as we’ll be contrasting the readings we have today against these ideas|
|Assessment task||Value||Due Date||Return of assessment||Learning Outcomes|
|Taking Fieldnotes||100 %||31/05/2019||08/07/2019||1, 2, 3, 4, 5|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
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Moderation of Assessment
Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Due date: for details of due dates and return dates for each assessment, please refer to the Wattle site.
Length: 1500 words + your example fieldnotes
What do we want you to do for assessment item 1?
For item 1, taking fieldnotes, you have to choose a public context (like a café, a supermarket, a mall, a sports match, a park, lunchtime at the student union, a library -- any public context that would not be hard for you to be in and stay reasonably inconspicuous. Take a notebook and pen with you. Stay there for at least 30 minutes, put the date and time at the top, and start recording what you observe. Fieldnotes are a cornerstone method of anthropology, and we all do it in our practice. The idea is to get a sense of ordinary activity, but anthropologists are always trying to get beyond the surface, to the things that might organise or underpin the ordinary, and we use those things to build analysis. The first thing we want you to do is to take the fieldnotes. Hand those in however you took them – messy, scrappy, on the back of a serviette – however they got taken.
The next thing we want you to do is tell us the process – where you went, how long you stayed, who was there.
The next thing we want to see is notes on the difference between taking fieldnotes and just observing as you would if you were just being part of the scene.
The next thing we want to see is a comment on what themes and ideas you would want to develop if you were using these fieldnotes to check out a social practice you were interested in researching.
The last part of the assessment piece is for you to relate these fieldnotes to what you learned about taking fieldnotes in our lecture on that topic, which falls in week 3.
Below, you will find an example of this assessment piece that I made to show you how this might be done. You should focus on the things that stick out to you – good things to keep in mind might be gender, the use of space, how time impacts activity, and so on. You should feel free to come and chat to us about the fieldnotes you have taken if you are unsure about what is interesting about them. You can choose from a host of sites -- some students in the past have taken fieldnotes in nightclubs and have noticed that while such spaces do not explicitly say so, they are designed to exclude some people – such as older people, for instance. Please do not ask people in the space any questions – this exercise is based strictly on your own observations, as we do not have ethics clearance for anything further. Also, please do not take photographs or videos of people.
Fieldnotes by Simone Dennis
Taken 25 March 2013, Café no-name, Bungendore, NSW
Notes on the process
On Sunday 25 March, I took some fieldnotes at a local café in Bungendore, NSW. It was a sunny day and there were a lot of people milling about and eating and drinking outside. I took my fieldnotes during the busy lunchtime rush. I estimate that there were around 50 people in the café, organized into about 8 groups – mostly fours and fives, comprising two or more adults and kids. The crowd seemed to be made up of families, in the main, although there were some groups that were made up of adults likely in their 60s.
I went to the café alone – I was the only person seated alone. It was difficult to find an appropriate spot, as I was aware that the seating was arranged to encourage group clusters, and I didn’t want to take up a whole table of five and put people out. I managed to find a setting for two and got out my notebook and pen. I took notes for about 30 minutes, which seemed to be the average time people stayed in the café.
Difference between taking fieldnotes and other kinds of taking note
For me, the main difference between taking fieldnotes and doing non-anthropological observation had to do with: (1) the kinds of things I noticed and how I responded to them; and (2) the conspicuousness of my position. In respect of (1), I found myself really trying very hard to notice things that I probably would not usually, such as how many groups were in the café and their constitution, how many adults, how many kids, and so on. I was glad I was alone, because noticing all of that detail was actually quite demanding, and I don’t think I would have been able to maintain a sociality with someone else. This, I think, led to (2); I was so conscious that I was noticing everything that it made me feel like people could tell I was focusing on them (not least because I was writing it down). I felt pretty uncomfortable doing that. I wanted to appear as though I was doing something unrelated, like writing a letter or perhaps being a journo meeting a deadline while having a coffee, but I don’t think I managed to pull off either of those performances!
Themes and ideas I’d develop
During the time I took notes, I focused on a few different things, but two main things. First of all, I noticed that some of the people at the café were smokers. They didn’t smoke in the café’s outdoor eating area; rather, they moved off to the side of the road and lit up their cigarettes there. During the time I was there, seven people smoked; 5 were men and one was a woman. The woman appeared to be in her twenties, and the men seemed older – 40s to 50s. The five men who smoked all came from the same group of people, but they didn’t all smoke at once; first, 2 left the café area to smoke, then they were joined by a third; then the first two sat back down at their table and the two remaining men came up. I think it had to do with when each had finished eating. The woman was sitting with a friend who had a baby with her. She kept waving the smoke away from the direction of the café with her hand, and kept mouthing ‘sorry’ to her friend every time that the smoke blew back towards the café.
If I was doing this research in earnest, I’d be really interested in asking the smokers about what they thought was sufficient distance to keep from the café as they smoked, especially in light of legislative developments that have attempted to keep smoke out of areas attended by the public, and in light of the increasingly moral tone taken towards smokers in the outdoors.
The second thing I focused on was peoples’ reactions to their food. I saw one man send back his meal, and I was seated close enough to hear what he said to the waiter. He told the waiter that his pasta was overcooked and did not have ‘that beautiful al dente bite to it’ when he took a mouthful. His table mates obviously recognized something familiar about his use of those words, and thereafter teased him about being a ‘foodie’. One called him ‘Manu’; that’s the name of a TV chef from the popular channel 7 show called My Kitchen Rules. I thought this was pretty interesting. I started to wonder what kinds of education these programs might offer to people that they might press into service as they patronized cafes. I think ideas about food are related to class, and operationalised in this way, too, but I began to wonder about the availability of this knowledge to those beyond the middle classes, and perhaps about what else a person might need to pull off a performance of knowledge about food and ‘foodiness’. I wondered how the staff of the café might respond to such a performance, too. I’d really want to chase those things up a lot more if I had the chance to do this research for real.
My own positionedness as I took the notes
My own positionedness as a middle class woman with certain views on ‘good’ food, money, value for money, and food knowledge (not least because there is a restaurant in my family, and a few chefs) might be important to consider if I was going to look into food and class, and my position as a former smoker might impact on my first theme in particular ways if I was to study either further. But, on the day, I think that being a middle class ‘foodie’ and a former smoker were factors that influenced me notice the things I did end up focusing on. Also, perhaps my position as a woman with a notebook made me less threatening than a man taking notes on his own, but I’m not sure, really, about that. My physical position I think was important; where I sat in the café allowed me to notice and observe certain things, and not others; while I could directly observe smokers at the edge of café from where I sat outdoors, I could not observe how the waiter went back to the kitchen with the offending pasta to tell the chef about its texture, or how the chef responded – and that would have been interesting to see and hear. Perhaps if I had taken a seat closer to the kitchen, I would have seen a lot more of wait staff-chef interactions, or interactions between chef and other members of the kitchen. As the cash register is also inside, I might also have gotten to hear and see some feedback being given on the food and its value for money as people paid their bills.
How the notes related to lecture from week 3
In lecture three, which dealt with the production of fieldnotes, we learned how fieldnotes are texts and memory aids, made for an audience of one. My fieldnotes were pretty scrappy looking (see attached) and would really only make sense to me. I found that when I came home to write this piece up and reread my notes, a lot of information was not in them – even though I wrote solidly in my notebook for over half an hour. Things like the smells of the food, the feeling of sitting in the sun outside and the discomfort of taking notes when I thought people might be watching me were things that did not make it into writing, so in this sense my fieldnotes are not a complete reflection of my experiences. These things came out as headnotes – and I think these would probably be important if I was to follow up the second theme, about food, as aroma and atmosphere are probably part of the class experience of food and eating.
In lecture 3, we also learned about how the field is a construct. This was pretty obvious to me once I got to the café and pulled out my fieldnote book – it was only a field to me, and not to the other patrons in the place – this was very much an imaginary I had created and could operate in very particularly.
In lecture 3, we heard about Mead’s practice, of ‘repairing speech’, so that what her informants told her became elaborated and fulsome in Mead’s notes. While I did not find myself doing that when I recorded what the man who had ordered the pasta said to the waiter, I think I would have to be careful not to do it if I was looking at class performance around food. Language and how it is used is an indicator of class, and I could ruin information by imposing my own ways of using words onto informants’ language.
If you decided to analyse a public event or rite of passage, you will need to do 2 things: first, give us a brief description of the public event or rite of passage (using the definition I will provide in the lecture) and second, explain how this event or rite of passage relates to what you learned in the lecture in week and the related readings.
Assessment Task 2
Length: 1500 words + your example kinship diagram
Name of Assessment Task: Kinship Diagram and Interpretation
What do we want you to do for assessment item 2?
For this item, we want you to produce a kinship diagram that we will show you how to produce in weeks 3-4. Do this one a friend or family member, or with someone from your class. Choose a focus for this – it could be education in the family, health and illness, career patterns, religion, migration, ethnicity, or combinations of these things. Then, we want you to tell us what kinds of questions you would want to then explore, from what the person was able to tell you about that topic as it relates to their family. For instance, if you were looking at education and ethnicity, which we will be looking at in our example in the lecture, you might be interested in chasing up how western education models interact or disturb practices of specific cultural education. If you were looking at education and gender, you might be interested in examining how women’s participation has changed over generations. If you were looking at a family who had a strong presence of the BRAC1 breast cancer gene, you might be fascinated by how people make decisions about removal of breasts and ovaries as a preventative measure by recourse to their own family histories that might play just as important a role as the medical information people get.
Assessment Task 3
Length: 2000 words
Name of Assessment Task: Final Essay -- a final short essay on anthropology's value in the contemporary world
What do we want you to do for assessment item 3?
Write an essay on one of the following questions:
1. Do anthropologists rely too much on culture as an explanation? Take on Nigel Rapport on your answer.
2. Why is it important for anthropologists to do fieldwork? Explain what makes ethnographic fieldwork the basis of anthropology.
3. Are ethnography and anthropology synonymous? Explain why you think so or not.
4. Of what worth is anthropology to the contemporary world? Give examples in your answer.
Assessment Task 4
What do we want in tutorials?
Using one of the tutorial questions set down each week as a guide, you’ll be expected to help lead a discussion in at least one of the weeks. Don’t worry – your tutor will help you to generate this discussion. You do not have to do all the readings listed for a particular week – chose the ones that interest you, and do those. Do at least one, and be prepared to discuss it in the tutorials. Tutes are only as interesting as you make them; there’s nothing worse than dead silence! Remember that anthropologists, like other specialists, often use specific words that are peculiar to the discipline. Even worse, they sometimes use everyday words, but assign different meanings to them! Keep a list of words you don’t understand, or that seem to have a different meaning than their everyday use, and ask your tutor about them. Above all, don’t feel intimidated. We do not expect you to be expert, but we do expect your effortful participation. Sometimes, we’ll expect you to get your hands dirty – especially in the week on the anthropology of food.
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Dr Jacqueline Hoepner