KINSHIP ASSIGNMENTS

I. Classificatory Kinship Chart (20 points total)
Based on assigned readings and in-class activities, this assignment asks you to create a kinship chart. For simplicity, it is easiest to work from your own kin relations. Of course, a kinship chart of other families and/or social networks are acceptable as well. From this kinship chart, compose three separate questions. These questions can address either (a) particular kin relations evident in the chart or (b) particular kin relations not evident in the chart. For example: If you see a pattern of multiple divorces among younger generations, you may want to ask: How are marital relations valued by younger generations? Are their values different from their parents or grandparents?

Circle the question that interests you most. This question will be the basis for your participant-observation investigations. As such, I strongly encourage you to think of a question that is easy to investigate in your own homes, on campus, or other accessible social/public settings. Be prepared to submit your kinship chart and questions in class on
Friday, October 15th.

Addendum: for those of you unable to turn in a kinship chart on Friday (based on logistical reasons of your chosen subject matter) please have one ready to be turned in to class by
Monday, October 25th.

Also there is website that can help you create your family tree (for free) on myheritage.com. Follow this
link. You need to sign up for an account, but overall, it is relatively easy and perhaps more efficient than pen and paper. When you have completed the tree, send me the link via email for review.

II. Participant-Observation Investigations (40 points total)

Part One (20 points) This assignment asks you to observe the social relationships and activities of your chosen site. As much as possible, try to refrain from directly interacting/starting up conversations with people in your field site. Observe and record your surroundings. Type up your field notes (2 pages minimum, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins) and be prepared to submit them in class on Friday, October 29th. Minimally, your field notes should include:

  • your RESEARCH QUESTION at the top of the page
  • the location of your field site
  • the dates and times you were there (multiple visits at different times of day are best)
  • a description of the physical environment (sketches are encouraged)
  • the specific number/types of people you observed (e.g. age, gender, occupations, ethnicity, etc.)
  • language spoken
  • common activities/routines
  • the nature of relationships/interactions observed
  • any strange or unusual behavior

Part Two (20 points) This assignment is a continuation of your ethnographic observations at your chosen field site. Your field notes should include the same considerations as listed above. This time though, as you become more comfortable with your role as an anthropologist, you should begin to interact with people in your field site. Start to think who would be a suitable person for a formal interview. Additionally, you should start to reflect more critically about your own position in the field. As such, your field notes should include:
  • your RESEARCH QUESTION at the top of the page
  • what it felt like to do the research
  • the most difficult aspects of the research
  • the best aspects of the research
  • how you think people perceived you

Type up your field notes (2 pages minimum, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins) and be prepared to submit them in class on
Monday, November 22nd. If possible, also try to set up a formal interview.

III. Formal Interview (40 points total)
This assignment asks you to conduct a formal interview with a person connected to your kinship project. You should explain the assignment to your interviewee and obtain verbal, participatory consent. Let your interviewee know that all information will be anonymous and names will be changed in your paper. Before your interview, prepare questions that address the nature of the relationship you are investigating. For example, if you are investigating changing marital patterns among older and younger generations, you may want to ask basic questions like: "When did you get married?" "How many years were you married for?" "When did your parents get married?" "How many years were they married for?" You also should compose some in-depth questions. For example: "At what age would you like your children to get married?" "Why do you prefer them to get married at a later age?" "Under what circumstances would you consider remarriage?"

Type up your interview findings as a coherent paper (2 to 3 pages, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins) and be prepared to submit your paper in class on
Monday, November 29th. Be sure to include the following information:
  • the "name" (use a pseudonym), age, sex, ethnicity, and occupational background of the person you interviewed
  • when and where you conducted the interview
  • how you established contact with the interviewee
  • reason for choosing this interviewee (e.g. connection to kinship assignment)
  • information about his/her background and/or familial relationships, including personal observations
  • the interview questions with accompanying answers
  • other information that you feel is important to include

IV. Final Write Up (100 points total)
This assignment is the final write up of your kinship project. It asks you to compare and contrast normative/idealized understandings of kinship with (a) your classificatory kin chart and (b) findings from the field. As with the critical essays, your paper should have a thesis statement followed by main points and a concluding argument. Also like the critical essays, this assignment encourages you to draw on analytical concepts and case examples from our assigned readings, films, and in-class discussions. Be prepared to discuss your project during the last week of class. For recommended guidelines on the extra-credit presentation component, click here. The final paper (4 to 5 pages, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins, with formal AAA citations and a bibliography) is due in class on Friday, December 10th.