Final Paper instructions
Ethnography/ Life history of an Immigrant:
Each student will choose an individual who has immigrated to the US and conduct an oral history of their life with them. Through this assignment students will:
- Learn to conduct basic ethnographic fieldwork, especially conduct interviews.
- Increase understanding of the role of globalization and immigration in New York.
- Develop skills for analyzing systems of power at work in human groups.
This research project has four (3) components, the culmination of which will be the final paper.
1. Data Gathering
a. Participant Observation
Visit the person more at least twice and participate in their activities. Observe the activities carefully: the space, the people, the sounds, smells. Observe your own reactions. Take field notes to record details of what you see. Record your personal reflections and opinions, as well as ideas for follow-up.
Conduct at least two interviews with the individual to get their life story.
Interview topics might include:
- Their life before they immigrated: social, economic, educational, family, cultural issues.
- Why they immigrated to the US
- Process of immigrating
- Where they moved to in the US and why.
- Process of starting a new life
- Challenges and opportunities
- Ties to their ‘homeland’
- Do they keep up culture, language, traditions from their homeland?
- Do they pass these on to their offspring?
- Issues of identity/Where do they feel they belong?
2. The Written Ethnography/Life History
(5 pages: typed, double spaced, 12 point font, one-inch margins)
Based on your fieldwork and interviews write up an ethnography of the person whose life story you have researched. This will serve as a final exam for the class. The ethnography should explore key concepts you have learned throughout the semester such as culture, identity, migration, class, race, and gender, and belonging but also integrate an analytical framework. This may include our discussions about the fieldwork process, power dynamics in human communities, underlying systems of power, and inequality such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, kinship, class, religion, and globalization. See the writings of Nancy Scheper-Hughes at the beginning and end of Chapter 3; the reading by Barbara Myerhoff; as well as Chapter 5 of God in Chinatown for examples of ethnographic writing.