Semaphore Signals*

So, the ethnographic class went rather well. I had written notes to talk about but they weren't necessary as some of the themes of ethnographic research (and how they differ from the "scientific" method) came through in discussions about what the kids had gotten up to. Most them them characterised ethnographic research as "fun", went to places ranging from pubs (a rather cheeky kid who always sits at the back of the class) to shopping malls and coffee shops.

In terms of places they went and the fieldnotes they recorded, this was the best class I'd participated in--groupwork worked very well and issues about how to evaluate research and what is the role of the researcher in knowledge production were vigorously debated. Also, it was easy to get them to think about how "research" and "data" differs according to who is doing it and what is being written down as they had seen it in action and could relate to what happened.

The link to IR is still something to work on but the ethics behind each type of research so far seems to be clearer now. At least for the kids who were there--half my class seems to be MIA these days.

Talking about ethnography, check this out. It's from a BBC article about how "real Americans" feel "duped" by Borat.

Ms Stein, with two other members of Veteran Feminists of America, agreed to be filmed for what they thought was a documentary to help third world women.

But then the reporter started talking about his wife's farm work ("she pulls the plough"), women walking three steps behind men ("it used to be 10 steps, my country is advancing") and asking how to contact Pamela Anderson.

"I thought I was talking to an uneducated man, maybe from a tribal community," Ms Stein says. "I mean, that's how it seemed to me.

"In our earnestness, we were trying to help women around the world."

Yes, and I'm sure those women are utterly grateful. I wasn't going to spend my hard-earned cash for Borat (after all, you can see most of his sketches on YouTube) but I reckon I am going to do so after all.

This is why research skills matter: "I thought I was talking to an uneducated man, maybe from a tribal community"**?

We all know what those blokes are like, don't we? They tend to spend loads of time interviewing "veteran feminists" in American cities. Those damned tribals.

Back to plans for Thursday's class: The Argument clinic (how interpretations differ and the implications thereof) and a debate on if Borat is an ethnographer. I figure if ramparts are going to be scaled, I may as well have fun in the meantime.

* From Wreckless Eric (yes, he's still around), specifically the BBC sessions. Someone put together all the songs and I acquired them today.

** The lady does admit, later in the article, that she is not angry at Cohen and is moving on.


At 10/24/2006 12:13 PM, Blogger peter said...

you totally need to put a clip of Borat from YouTube up on "your" laptop in class. It would certainly be fun and maybe increase your Professorial cool points with the kids.


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