We all think that our world is familiar, that it is our own. We have established
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We all think that our world is familiar, that it is our own. We have established rhythms and routines, whether it is a morning jog, a regular visit to a favorite coffee shop, or a frequent gathering of friends. To get started thinking like an anthropologist, we need to look carefully at the world around us, learn to recognize cultural diversity and practice applying the knowledge learned in Module 1.
In this activity, you will be taking a virtual tour of two places, one familiar and one not, using the “street view” tool on Google Maps or a similar platform, if you prefer. While on the tours, you will be doing “ethnographic fieldwork” (pg. 10), attuning yourself to your environment to see space an artifact of cultural processes. What kind of atmosphere does the space create (how does it feel to be there?), how do you know how to move through it (what kind of familiar signs or designs help you to understand how to navigate the terrain?), and what do the things you are noticing help you to understand about the dominant social values and economic and political realities of the place? Challenge your own “ethnocentrism” (pg. 9) and consider how the spaces you are exploring may have been shaped by “flexible accumulation” (pg. 20), “uneven development” (pg. 21) and “time-space compression” (pg. 20).
Please follow the instructions below to create your own virtual tour. Take notes as you go and write a short summary of your observation to share as the discussion post. If you are able to, please include screenshots and images to help others see what you saw. Lastly, if you have time please respond to at least one other post.
Go to Google Maps. [if you’d like to search in China use Baidu Maps , instead.] and enter an address or location into the search bar. Using the “street view” icon on the lower right-hand side of the page, click-hold the icon, drag it on to the map, and drop it where you would like to begin your tour. If you need a tutorial, a video for how to use street view is available here:
For your first tour, use a location you are familiar with, eg. your hometown, OSU’s campus, your grandmother’s neighborhood? Using the navigation controls, move through this place in along a familiar pathway, perhaps walking to class, or a friend’s house, or from your home to the store.
Have a notebook on hand, take note of all of the places you would normally walk right past if this was a normal day in your life. What cultural worlds exist alongside your own? Look for places you do not normally visit—or even better, places that represent groups you do not belong to. Do you regularly pass a Catholic church, a Jewish synagogue, or a Muslim mosque? Do you walk past a Vietnamese restaurant you’ve never tried, or the offices of an Asian student group? We all have groups that we belong to and those we do not belong to. An important part of cultural anthropology is learning that the groups we do not belong to are found not only in faraway countries but also right next door.
What to look for:
1.) Roadway infrastructure: For whom/what was the roadway made? Cars, bikes, buses, mopeds, pedestrians, trucks? What kinds of signage is around?
2.) Allocation of space: Is this a commercial, residential, industrial, natural environment, or mixed space?
3.) Shops and locations: How are things position along your path of travel? What types of services are represented?
4.) Housing: What type of housing structures are there (apartments, stand alone, communal)? What are the structures made of?
5.) Natural spaces: What can you see of the natural environment? Trees, bushes, animals? Are they made by humans (parks, beautification projects..) or built around (groves, rivers..).
1.) Roadway infrastructure: How do you know what the signs mean? Language, shapes, illustrations? Do you feel confident navigating this space?
2.) Allocation of space: Do you see people? What are they doing in this space? How does the design of the space attract or repel specific behaviors?
3.) Shops and locations: How can you tell what something is? Can you tell what the service being provided is or who the clientele is meant to be?
4.) Housing: Do you have an idea of how dwellings are used? Do people tend to live alone or with family (immediate or extended)? Are there private space outside of the dwelling (yards, gardens)? Are the spaces partitioned in some way (fences, gates)?
5.) Natural spaces: Can you tell how people interact with these spaces? Are they functional (fishing..) or aesthetic (perfectly lined up shrubs creating a border)?
Prepare for your second tour. Repeat step 1, but this time select a place you have never been and are not sure what to expect there in terms of built and social environments. Using the navigation controls, move through this place and consider what kind of diversity is present there, not just in cultures but in ways of making space. What do you notice? Please further investigate things that intrigue you and make notes about them for your summary. For example, if you notice a pattern that is unfamiliar, try googling about the location for more information. What kinds of things do you need to consider to gain a better understanding of what you are observing (history, ecology, politics…)? You don’t have to find the answers, but practice knowing what questions to ask.
Tell us a good story! Write a summary about the experience of taking these tours, including the different cultural groups found in your own community and what you learned about the second place you visited. Post your summary to this discussion board. You can add details to your summary by including pictures, maps, or sketches of the places and cultures you encountered. When reading the posts of your fellow students, think about how the things you noticed differed from one another as well as what observations you have in common. What themes emerge across posts?
Attention to the prompt: Be sure to respond to all parts of the prompt and questions given. Reference the prompt and questions in your response so your contribution to the discussion is clear to other students.
Inclusion of course materials: Engagement with the course materials is required, as is citation of sources. You must reference some part of the course material, either the textbook or the recorded lectures, but formal citation of these materials is not required. To cite the textbook, put the page number you’re referencing in parentheses at the end of the sentence, e.g.: (pg. 123). To cite a recorded lecture, use the title of the video and an approximate timestamp: (Lecture: Racism, 05:30). If you use outside sources, cite these properly and include a bibliography.
Word count and spelling/grammar/syntax: Your initial response to the prompt should be 300-500 words, and your response to a classmate’s post should be 150-200 words. Bibliography does not count towards word count. Proofread for spelling and grammar errors and edit for clarity. Discussion board posts are editable, so feel free to make small edits if you notice errors after you submit your post.