ABOUT

Foodways in Focus is a collection of mini-ethnographies for the Introduction to Anthropology honor’s course, taught by Dr. Lucero Radonic, in the fall of 2015.

COURSE OVERVIEW

This course is designed as an introduction to cultural anthropology. As such, the course has four major objectives. First, to expose students to the history of the field as well as its central theories, methodologies, and applications. Second, to show students some of the variety of human cultures on the planet, emphasizing their diversity as well as the common threads that tie human societies together. Third, to highlight the diverse on-the-ground applications of anthropology for the study of social dynamics in the contemporary world. Fourth, to teach students how to identify ethical research issues within the discipline of anthropology.

EXPECTED LEARNING OUTCOMES

Students will be able to:

  • Develop familiarity with the theoretical approaches and methodological tools used by anthropologists, and understand the applicability of these tools.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically analyze the similarities and differences between different human social groups, using basic anthropological concepts.
  • Describe how gender, class, race and ethnicity impact an individual’s worldview as well as how society perceives the individual.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of global interconnectedness.
  • Foster critical thinking skills through reading and in-class discussion.

PRACTICAL ENGAGEMENT

Through the exploration of food ways in the Michigan area students reflect and expand on the knowledge learned in class through action and group analysis. They practice how to respectfully engage in participant observation, how to elaborate and conduct semi-structured interviews, and how to produce a photo-essay that is anthropologically informed and respectful towards research participants.

Through the course of the semester students conduct three ethnographic exercises. Assignments 1 and 2 introduce them to participant observation and semi-structured interviewing skills, respectively. These assignments contribute towards their third assignment, a group mini-ethnography project on a particular food-related preparation or production practice. Students have two months to design and conduct the mini-ethnography.