Course Home
Class schedule
E-mail the class

Mead and Samoa

Mead and Samoa





Monday, April 25
Read the two "coming to the field" chapters, Chapter 1, "Guest and Daughter," from Veiled Sentiments and "From Experience to Text" in The Poetics of Military Occupation. Come to class ready to write a short reflection on how these are alike or different from Mead's description of her own field experience from Blackberry Winter or Raymond Firth's "In Primitive Polynesia." I will lecture on how these differences illustrate the changing ideas of ethnographic writing in anthropology.

Tuesday, April 26
Read Chapters 2 and 3, "Identity in Relationship" and "Honor and the Virtues of Autonomy" in Veiled Sentiments. Come to class ready to write on how you think you would cope as either a woman or a man in such a social system. I will lecture on the history of gender, kinship, and honor as anthropological concepts.

Wednesday, April 27
Read chapter 4, "Modesty, Gender, and Sexuality" in Veiled Sentiments. Come to class ready to write on whether Abu-Lughod's writing elicits your sympathy or understanding for people living under the 'Awlad Ali social codes. We will follow with a lecture discussion of the role of empathy in ethnographic writing.

Thursday, April 28 Quiz Sections
Read Chapters 5 through 7, "The Poetry of Personal Life," "Honor and Poetic Vulnerability," and "Modesty and the Poetry of Love," in Veiled Sentiments. Your section discussion will revolve around your reactions to the poetry itself, whether the authors and the translator of the poems have succeeded in touching your own emotions, and the role of emotion in ethnographic writing and reading.

Friday, April 29
Read Chapter 8, "Ideology and the Politics of Sentiment," in Veiled Sentiments. Your essay on Mead is due today at the beginning of class, so there is no other writing assignment to prepare. I will lecture on the history of the opposition between structure and sentiment in anthropology.

Monday, May 2
Read the Preface to the second edition of Veiled Sentiments. Come to class prepared to write a comment on Abu-Lughod's statement on page xvi that "Veiled Sentiments reads to me now, so many years later, like a fairly standard ethnography." We will then have a discussion on what she means and whether it reads to us "like a fairly standard ethnography," as well as on several other questions of general interest brought up by the 1999 preface.

Tuesday, May 3
Read Chapter 2, "Bedouin in Limbo," and Chapter 3, "The Sheikh" (required) in The Poetics of Military Occupation (henceforth Poetics). There will be no class today, but you should bring to class tomorrow (May 4), a one-page essay (typed please, since you don't have to do it in class) on what surprised you about the history of the Sinai Bedouin that you read in chapter 2.

Wednesday, May 4
Read chapter 4, "The Madwoman" in Poetics. Come to class ready to write on your reaction to the stories in the chapter. There will be a lecture on Abu-Lughod's and Lavie's different treatments of the topics of gender and female adolescence.

Thursday, May 5 Quiz Sections
Read Chapter 5, "The Ex-Smuggler" in Poetics. Sections will meet together today, as I will be out of town. Your section discussion will focus on the function of storytelling in ethnography, and the questions it raises for the idea that people have a culture, and that cultures are distinctive.

Friday, May 6
Read chapter 6, "The Old Woman," in Poetics. Come to class prepared to participate in a free-for all on the intended and actual effects of Lavie's stories on readers of her book. We will also go over the Essay Assignment for Bedouins

Monday, May 9
No specific reading, but take a good look at the photographs in both books. Come to class prepared to write something about photographs. I will lecture on the use of photography as an adjunct to ethnographic writing, with examples from Malinowski, Mead, Abu-Lughod, and especially Lavie. This may be the only real PowerPoint of the quarter, so don't miss it.

Tuesday, May 10
Read Chapter 7, "The Fool" and Chapter 8, "The Symbolic Battle Coordinator," in Poetics. Come to class ready to write on what political stances you think the authors are taking. I will lecture on the political uses of ethnography in the Bedouin books, harking back to Mead and forward to Bourgois/Schonberg.

Wednesday, May 11
Read chapter 9, "The One Who Writes Us," in Poetics and some reviews of Poetics: Come to class ready to write on whether you agree with the reviews or not, and why.

Thursday, May 12 Quiz Sections
Read "Interlude" and Chapter 10, "When Identity becomes Allegory," in Poetics. Your section discussion will focus on the question of Truth in Ethnography, especially in light of George Marcus's review of Derek Freeman's book and the differences between Abu-Lughod's and Lavie's approaches to writing ethnography. This discussion should be of help to you in writing your your essay for this unit.

Friday, May 13
No extra reading for today. Today is all about my lecture, summing up Veiled Sentiments and The Poetics of Military Occupation in light of our four original questions about ethnography, viz.:
  • Is ethnography about them or about us?
  • Is ethnography a science or a literary form?
  • Is ethnography fact or fiction?
  • Is ethnography the same now as it was in the days of Margaret Mead?
You don't get to write on this topic this time, since you had the chance in the Mead unit.