Week 1

Introducing the Anthropology of
Race, Ethnicity, and Nation



  • Interviews: “What is Race?”
    • Get out of your dorm/apartment/house and ask 6 strangers the simple question, “what is race?”
    • Introduce yourself as a student at MSU in a class on race, and ask if you can record their answers. There’s no need to ask anyone’s name or any other personal information.
    • By “strangers” I mean that they must be people you don’t know.
    • They should also be different kinds of people: don’t ask 6 people who are all the same gender, age, class, race, etc.
    • Record the answers—the voice memo function on your phone works fine.
    • Write the answers down quickly and write down the time and location for each response, and perhaps some notes on your impressions of the respondent based on your observations.


  • Introductory Blog
    • Introductory postDue by 11:59 pm EST on Friday July 8.
    •  Title: A title for yourself – something unique about you that you might want to share with the rest of the class like “Aspiring activist” or “1998 Spelling Bee Champion.”
    • Body: Tell us a few things about yourself:
      • Your name, year, major and anything else you want to share.
      • Any previous experience in anthropology and why you are taking this class.
      • Finally, include a picture of something that is relevant to you and tell us why you chose it – to post a picture from online, just copy and paste it into the body of the post.
    • Comment: In the comment section of someone else’s practice post, introduce yourself and mention what you found interesting about their post and if you have anything in common with them. You are free to comment on as many posts as you like!
    • Category: “Introductory Post” (make sure to check the correct box on the right side of the post form).
  • Weekly Blog Posts
    • Activity post: 250-300 words reflecting on the results of your “What is Race?” interviews.
      • What kinds of patterns do you see in the answers?
      • Did anything surprise you? If so, what and why?
      • If not, what assumptions of yours were confirmed?
      • What did you learn from this assignment about the ways people think and talk about race?
      • What did you learn from this assignment about conducting anthropological research?
    • Category: Week 1 Activity post


  • Reflection Posts
    • Reflection post: 300-400 word analytical summary of this week’s readings. Consider organizing your blog post around a few key themes from this week’s readings and discussing individual readings, activities, and/or concepts in relation to each theme. In other words, create a conversation between the different readings/activities.
    • Possible themes:
      • After the week’s lectures, readings, and activities, how would you explain what it means to say race is “socially constructed?”
      • What do you find the most convincing evidence that there is one single human race?
      • Is there something you still find confusing in discussing and distinguishing the concepts of race and human biological variation?
      • Which model(s) of classification is most like the one(s) you grew up hearing, and perhaps taking for granted?
    • Category: Week 1 Reflection post

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