Week 1 Blog Post Prompt

Week 1  Blog Post : Map of a Block/Practicing Ethnography

This assignment has been adapted from Paul Kutsche’s “A Map of a Block” in Field Ethnography: A Manual for Doing Cultural Anthropology.

Doing the assignment:

Find a block or a street that interests you. For example, choose a street that is not in your immediate neighborhood, but rather something that is outside of your usual route. You can determine how large the block or street that you want to look at is, but remember that it needs to be a big enough area for it to be meaningful, but small enough that you can describe it in detail. Do not interview any people, but closely observe the street and take notes on what you observe.

Writing it up:

In a blog post, describe the block. Make sure that you describe both the physical structures that you encounter as well as the “happenings” on the street.   Pay close attention to detail, but make sure that you explain why the details that you describe are worth noting.

In addition, draw a map of the street taking care to label the physical landscape. Do not neglect any physical structure, no matter how “insignificant” it may seem. Make sure that you include the location of the block and the time (or times) that you visited. Upload a pdf scan of the map.

Some helpful hints:
  • Do your best to describe without using language that judges the block. For example, do not use words such as “pretty” or “ugly,” and especially words such as “nice” or “interesting.” Use evidence to support your conclusions about the block. For example, in describing a block as being a wealthy residential area, describe how observations such as the types or number of cars parked outside led you to your conclusion.
  • Watch how people relate to the physical environment. How does what they are wearing, or what they are doing illustrate what happens on the street. For example, if the street is in front of an office building, do the people dress to “fit” what is going on inside.
  • If time permits, visit the block more than once. Perhaps once in the morning, and once in the evening. Or at the same time on two different days. Note the changes in activities at the various times.

*Please recognize that this assignment is to help you understand what it means to really observe. It is to give you practice in describing spaces–not to find the most compelling or active block. Do not put yourself in any situations that could cause harm to you or others in order to complete the assignment.*

4 thoughts on “Week 1 Blog Post Prompt

  1. Hi everyone,
    For future blog posts (and this one if you haven’t done it yet) please use this title structure (first initial, last name-Week___-Title of assignment), soif I were doing this week’s assignment, it would look like this:
    D. Claiborne – Week One – Block Map.

    Don’t forget to categorize it and tag it for the Week number (e.g. Week one)

    There are over 70 people in the class and everything you can do to make it easier to find your post to grade it will make things easier for all of us. Thanks.

  2. #DEON, I noticed that other people in the class put their maps in their posts as images; the instructions say to upload it as a PDF file, and I can’t seem to figure out how to make a PDF file appear as an image in my post. Whenever I “Add Media” it simply includes a link to my map, rather than showing the map in the post itself. Am I missing something?

    • Kevin,
      I’m on my phone right now, bit across the top of the site is a black banner with the WordPress symbol, a key, a house, a comment bubble, and a plus sign (might look a little different on a computer). The plus sign is for adding media, includong d9cuments. But I’m fine with you uploadong a photo of your map. I think that’s probably a lot easier (unless you did it on the computer).

      Hope that helps.

  3. #DEON I have tried numerous times to add a photo into my blog, including using the directions/tips that you provided Kevin with. The site stills seems to not want to accept my photo. I have tried to upload it as a PDF file as well as a JPEG. Any suggestions?


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