Section Information for Spring 2017
What do cities around the world today tell us about humankind, social problems, and how to solve them? And how does long-term, in-depth ethnographic study illuminate those problems and their potential solutions? In this course, we will go straight to the source – ethnographies of cities – to see how anthropologists and sociologists devise their research questions, carry out their methods, and do their analysis. We'll cover controversies about the theorization of the poor as well as ethnographic ethics. We will also get out into the city ourselves – on buses, in the Metro, on the Mall, in the malls, on streets, and in neighborhoods – to conduct our own ethnographic investigations in the nation's capital. Students will learn how to formulate research questions about urban life and to develop and undertake a site-based research project; they’ll also learn the art of taking field notes and how to analyze those notes as they write their own small-scale ethnographies.
Uses tools and resources of social and cultural anthropology to study life in cities, including urban poverty, migration, urban planning, and discrimination. Case studies draw from different urban environments around the world, including Washington, D.C., and New York City.