ANTHRO 330: Advanced Field Methods: Photoethnography and Civic Engagement

Semester: Fall 2003
Class: Tuesdays-Thursdays 10:10-11:40 Carnegie 06
Lab: Wednesdays 2:30 - 4:00 (Location TBA; mandatory)
Prerequisites: Anthro 230: Ethnographic Interviewing
Enrollment Limit: 16
Instructor: Karen Nakamura

Last Offered: Fall 2003
Next offered: -

Course Description

This is an advanced field methods course in written ethnography, photoethnography, and applied anthropology. Students are expected to commit to a semester-long ethnography of a community outside Macalester in the Twin Cities area. Students will read about ethnographic field methods, field ethics, theories of writing culture, and analyzing visual culture. They will learn how to write fieldnotes and produce written and visual ethnographies. The final project consists of a combination written ethnography and photoethnography of a local community organization.

This course is primarily field-driven in its emphasis. Students in the past have focused on topics ranging from the St. Paul Public Housing Agency; Jane Addams School for Democracy; Hmong American Partnership; and Native American communities in Northern Minnesota. Supplementing their fieldwork are readings on studies of previously studied communities (Paul D'amato's work on hispanic americans in Chicago; Wing Young Huie on Frogtown, St. Paul, etc.) by various photoethnographers. Theory and methods will be introduced to allow the students the analytical tools to understand their field, but the principal focus is the lived experience of their informants.

This Fall (2003), the course will take several new directions as it is part of Project Pericles, a campus-wide project on public scholarship. Students are encouraged very, very, very strongly (i.e., required) to choose fieldsites based on issues of social justice and social change. The Internship Office has kindly agreed to coordinate with various social service organizations in the Twin Cities to provide internship / research opportunities.

To this end, we have arranged four fieldsites for the course: 1) Hmong American Partnership; 2) St. Paul Public Housing Agency; 3) Jane Addams School for Democracy; and 4) Common Bond. For more information about the sites, please see the fieldsite information page.

Students will be required to produce a running set of field journal notes, smaller ethnographic vignettes, analytical essays, and a full written and photographic ethnography by the end of the course. This course is five credits and has a mandatory lab session. Between readings (2-3 hrs/week), seminar (3 hrs), lab (2 hrs), and fieldwork (5-7 hrs/week; 80 hours total), you will be kept quite busy (about 10-12 hrs/week). Do not take this course alongside a full workload of intense courses. You are encouraged to sign up for a 1-credit internship for the field component.

I recommend that students using 35mm film use Kodak Tri-X film as it is the most flexible and least expensive black and white film on the market. The public darkrooms are set up to develop Tri-X. You can scan it using the scanner in the Ethnographic Research Laboratory.

Prerequisites and Requirements

Advanced Anthropology Course. Anthropology 101 (Cultural Anthropology) and Anthropology 230 (Ethnographic Interviewing) or equivalents are required. Offered alternate years.

This course is cross-listed with the Fine Arts Department. Fine Arts majors with a background in photography who do not meet the course requirements may petition the instructor for permission to enroll. Please e-mail me (nakamura@mac) or see me during my office hours (Tue/Thur 3-4pm) for more information. Students interested in fine arts photography should explore Mac Pics or photography courses at the College of St. Catherines.

Please note that despite the Fine Arts cross-listing, this course does not meet the Fine Arts distribution graduation requirements for the college. It does, however, contribute to a Fine Arts major.

Enrollment limit: 15. Attendance at the first class is mandatory in order to retain your slot on the course roster. If you wish to be on the waiting list for the course, please attend the first class and bring reasons why your contributions to the class would be critical.

Textbooks and Course Readings

The required textbooks will be available at the Ruminator Bookstore. Course readings in the forms of articles will be distributed in class and also available through the eReserve system.

Schedule of Readings (when to read what; PDF Format)

Required Books

Assignment Percentage
Participation 10%

White Paper (due 9/18; 4pp) 5%
Editorial Essay (due 10/9; 4pp) 5%
Photoethnography (due 11/6; 10pp) 10%

Field journal 10%
Photo Assignments (5% x 5) 25%
Final Project (due Dec 10) 35%


Choosing a fieldsite

Before starting the course, you should think of possible fieldsites in the Twin Cities area. The field component is mandatory and we will cover field ethics extensively. For this course, the instructor has already prepared several fieldsite options.

You should come up with a ranking of the top three places where you would like to conduct your research and must be ready to begin fieldwork by the second week of class (Sept 9).

More information on field sites and fieldnotes.

FAQ: What type of camera or other equipment will I need?

Final Projects Fall 2002
Dan Eisenbeis ('03) Community from the Ground Up
A photoethnography of the Common Harvest Farm (web site)
Emily Omura ('03)

Mino Miijim: Traditional food as physical and spiritual medicine
(photo display)

Heather Buessler ('03)

Argentine Tango at the Four Seasons Dance Studio
(photo display)

Carolyn Waters ('04)

Used Car Sales at Saxon Ford
(web site)

Nikki Miller ('03) Mixing Studio
(posterboard display)


Useful Links

Magazines and Websites



Library Resources

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