Description of Coursework
Anthropology Seminar on Heritage, 3 credits
Undergrad Course Anth 447
Grad Level Course Anth 647
Ethnographic Methods & Field Work Practicum, 5 credits
Undergrad Course Anth 497
Grad Level Course Anth 697
Ethnographic Methods & Field Work Practicum
This course provides students the foundations of ethnography as the core methodology and fieldwork practice of cultural anthropology. The course has four components: (1) a classroom seminar component in which students read and critically discuss basic strategies, methods, tools, and techniques of fieldwork, as well as learn about ethical issues of research; (2) an intensive short course in spoken Maya language designed for students to develop minimal conversational abilities with Maya persons; (3) a fieldwork learning component consisting of supervised fieldwork and independent research project; and (4) an experiential learning component consisting of a guided forum in which students present and discuss their fieldwork frustrations, failures, successes, detours, achievements, and doubts to each other. Each unit of the course builds on the previous unit and weaves together a multi-layered learning experience. In addition, short practical ethnographic exercises are assigned to students to allow give them experience in using a method or procedure. Classroom time is given to discussing the results of these assignments. Prior to each seminar, instructions are provided on how to approach assigned readings. Given the condensed time frame of the program, students do not read all texts for each seminar. Rather the required readings of that session are distributed or assigned in advance to each participant, who then prepares a brief written summary of key points and discussion questions/issues (a handout) that is used in seminar. Graduate students do an extra article or chapter every third seminar session.
Evaluation of student success is based on (a) the quality of the manner in which the student works through the processes and dynamics of fieldwork, including proactive participation in all components, (b) the submission of a final report which includes analytical discussions of fieldwork and its results as well as the presentation of research data and materials according to a pre-given format, and (c) the archiving, storage, and organization of research data and materials according to criteria and formats provided the student in advance. Graduate students are expected to complete assignments with greater rigor and quality; complete all reading assignments the final project has more extensive greater requisites in terms of size and submission of research materials.
Students design ethnographic fieldwork that can be accomplished in the time frame of the Field School. Projects can range according to student interests, but should address issues or topics developed in context of the Seminar on Heritage Development, such as:
- art and handicraft production as intangible cultural heritage
- Maya cultural identity in relation to archaeological heritage
- Maya practices and conceptions of health, healing, curing; traditional ritual
- discourses and conceptions of “traditional” Maya spirit world
- Maya identity and conceptions of foreigners/tourists; host-guest interaction
- urbanism, infrastructural development, and government-community interface
- spatial geographies of economic activities & social life
- migration, labor, and commuting between Chichén & peripheral villages
- socioeconomic strategies and economic organization of dependent villages
- politics of handicraft markets; or of tourism service providers (guides, taxis)
- histories of work in & views of archaeology activities (excavation, reconstruction)
- religious diversity, participation in religion, & religious life
- socio-cultural expressions of class status and positioning via material culture & ritual
- Maya language as intangible heritage: use of language as class/ethnic/cultural identity
- applied/action research in community based tourism development
Anthropology Seminar on Heritage
This course provides field school participants with the conceptual and analytical foundations by which to investigate contemporary heritage issues. Specific objectives are to provide students with: (a) understanding of the range of heritage issues, concepts, and approaches; (b) a theoretical framework in which to conceive and conduct one’s ethnographic research project as well as analyze the materials one produces in fieldwork; and, (c) a foundation of the specific ethnographic contexts of heritage issues in Yucatán, generally, and in the local microregion of communities where students conduct their research projects. The bulk of the seminar coursework is temporally compressed or compacted into the initial three weeks of the program. During week 4, following the break, there is a one seminar session. During weeks 5 and 7, the seminar has no sessions to allow students to do their fieldwork. The seminar reconvenes for a double session during week 6 in the form of a Student Research Conference. Evaluation of students is based on active participation in the seminar discussions, completion of readings and a written summary handout, a 20 minute formal presentation of research project in the conference setting, and the final ethnography research project based on original fieldwork. The Heritage Seminar also includes a visual anthropology component. One seminar during each of weeks 2 and 3 is devoted to the screening and critical discussion of film representations of Maya culture and civilization. One session is devoted to educational films about Maya Civilization (“archaeological heritage”) and a second session is devoted to ethnographic films about contemporary Maya culture.
The first week of the Heritage Seminar focuses on concepts and theories of and approaches to heritage. Key issues include the emergence of heritage as a problem of study, different kinds of heritage, such as world heritage versus intangible heritage, the theoretical relationships between heritage and culture, and relationships between heritage development and tourism.
The second week of the Heritage Seminar focuses on archaeological heritage from the vantage point of the ethnography of archaeology. Thus, we are concerned to explore the question what is the difference between ethnography of archaeology versus of heritage. This conceptual issue provides a framework to read about specific situations and case studies of ethnographies of the social contexts of archaeology in which archaeological heritage is prominent.
The third week of the Heritage Seminar focuses on ecological heritage and intangible cultural heritage. In this week we learn about ecotourism and the development of the Maya Riviera as well as raise the question what is it to investigate language, ritual, performance, health, healing as types heritage. What is it to study these things as “culture” — the way ethnographers used to! — and to study these intangible things as heritage.
The fourth week of the Heritage Seminar focuses on the Maya identity, indigenous identity politics, and the politics of anthropology in Yucatán.
No Heritage Seminar during the fifth week of the Field School students focus on conducting their field projects and meeting for the fieldwork workshop.
The sixth week of the Heritage Seminar is devoted to the Student Research Conference in which students are required to begin analyzing and interpreting the data and results of their fieldwork in terms of the conceptual issues, analytical frameworks, and theoretical approaches presented in seminar. The conference allows students to present their initial analysis and receive feedback in order to refine and further develop their conceptual work.
No Heritage Seminar during the seventh week of the Field School students focus on conducting research and writing up their final ethnography projects.
Independent Student Research Projects from Previous Years
OSEA students are trained to design, develop and conduct independent research projects on topics and issues that interest them. Here the sky is not the limit -- only your own interests and desires. Here is a short list of student projects from previous years.
study of midwifery. Linsey 2009
study of the experience of pregnant women. Gabi 2010
study of family home-remedies. Marion 2010
study of traditional Maya healers/hmeen. Chantal 2010
study of mother's role in family health and caretaking. Michelle 2010
study of children's use and attitudes towards speaking Maya. Isabella 2005
study of Maya language use, code-switching, and attitudes. Brianna 2009
study of taxi driver's talk about swine flu effects on tourism. Justin 2009
study of the use of newspapers by local politicians. Rickey 2010
study of artisanry production and marketing. Evan 2009
study of tourist and artisan vender talk and interactions. Matt 2009
study of tour guides' relationship to Chichen Itza, archaeological heritage & Maya identity. Nichole 2010
study of tourism workers (waiters) economic strategies. Kristy 2011
study of the talk & experiences of Alcoholic Anonymous participants. Sarah 2009
study of adolescent use of public space to socialize. Albina 2011
study of dance in social events. Jennelle 2005
study of coming of age Quinceaρos parties. Alison 2005