• March 21st, 2016

Islam Participant Observation

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Participant Observation Assignment Cultural Anthropologists have long used participant observation as their primary means of coming to understand a particular culture. Observing the actual behaviors of people brings an element of scientific objectivity while participating in cultural activities allows the anthropologist to experience what it feels like to be a !Kung, Yanomamo, or Tiv. Most people are receptive to anthropologists who seem to be generally interested in interacting with them. To give you a small taste of what it is like to observe a culture from the inside, you are being asked to select a cultural event to both observe and participate in to the degree that that is possible. The event should be something that has cultural significance for those participating and should not be a performance put on solely for an audience. Possible events include observing a religious gathering such as an Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Islamic gathering. These kinds of events are the most common and easiest to observe. You may attend other cultural gatherings that are significant for those participating and not part of a festival performance. The paper is composed of two components: the description and the analysis. The description is 3-4 pages. It includes the key elements of the event, such as the setting, those participating, symbols used, and the key ritual behaviors that the participants share in. Since it is impossible to extensively describe what you will observe in 3-4 pages, focus on those elements that are most striking and important to fostering the mood and beliefs you sense being experienced. Do not write about your feelings. Focus on what you sense is key to the experience of those who are members of the group. The second section is a 2 page analysis of what you observed. Why did people behave the way they did? What contributed to this being a meaningful and coherent experience for those participating? What moods and beliefs were reinforced by the use of the various elements of the ritual? You do not need to know the ultimate answers to these questions. You are only being asked to make an informed, intelligent guess as to what the ritual means and why. Please choose an event that you have never attended before and that is not part of your own cultural tradition. This will allow you to note cultural elements that you might take for granted if they are familiar to you. Have fun and be wise in your selection so as not to place yourself in danger. It is okay to go with a friend or a classmate. Feel free to use MLA or APA format. Use 12’ New Times Roman or Georgia font and double space with 1” margins. Please attach a cover page with the name of the event, your name, and the date.

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