Family Ethnography and Kinship Chart


The Project has two parts: There is a kinship chart in which you will diagram your family and known ancestors. This is like a family tree but different in that you will be using the symbols and techniques employed by anthropologists. To assist you in your diagramming you will need to refer to Chapter 21 in Haviland, Kinship and Descent. Take a look at those charts and then proceed with your kinship chart.
Part two is a family ethnography or culturally rich story of your family. This a paper 3-5 pages in length. Your paper should be single-spaced and double-spaced between paragraphs. In your paper you will be telling the story of your known ancestors. If you are an orphan or were dropped on someone’s doorstep in a basket, then your knowledge of your biological relatives is limited. However, family is as much sociological as it is a biological phenomenon. You probably have a circle of emotional intimates who function as family.
Your paper has two parts: There is a methods section and your actual ethnography. In the methods section you tell about how you collected your kinship and ethnographic data. You will need to interview members of your family, at least key informants, in order to get the information you will need to augment what you already know about your family. The interviewing is a major component of the project, and you will need to report whom you interviewed and in what setting/conditions you did your interviewing. Biologists can study lab rats in a controlled setting. However, we can’t place our family in a lab. Consequently, it is important to try to replicate conditions, where possible, to conduct your interviews in similar controlled settings, such as each informant was interviewed by him/herself in the family dining room, kitchen or den. Because your family members are not lab rats you will occasionally have to collect information under whatever are the existing conditions by telephone, by email, in the middle of a family gathering or maybe at a sporting event. Anthropologists are used to working under difficult conditions, and we are prepared to collect information wherever we can. In your methods section you will also report on what constraints, limitations or problems you encountered in collecting the data. Your detailing of methods, including constraints, gives the reader tools for assessing the quality of the data. These tools include knowledge of the sample size and the representativeness of the sample. Did you interview only males while watching the Super Bowl, or individuals over 110 and under 5 years of age? If so, your sample may be skewed, meaning less than representative of the total population under study (your family).