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Response Papers

 

For each of these books, you will write a response paper of no more than 800 words. This short response should give a summary of the overarching argument of the book, including at least one salient ethnographic example that helps clarify the theoretical argument that the author puts forward in the book. The response must also include a brief critical engagement with the overarching argument. Important note: ‘critical’ engagement in academic work does not simply mean a ‘negative’ engagement with the work. Rather, critical engagement entails going beyond the argument as stated by the author to consider any of the implications, strengths, or problems with the argument. This may entail analyzing the unstated assumptions of the argument, considering the broader implications of the argument, explaining how the argument articulates with other theorists or ideas, or, indeed, problems inherent in the argument. The response paper should be roughly divided between summary and critical engagement, and it should demonstrate that you have read, understood, and engaged meaningfully with the material in each monograph. The rubric for response papers can be viewed here.

Each response paper is due before class on the last discussion day for each book, as laid out in the syllabus. These will be turned in via Box, uploaded as a single-spaced PDF, beginning with a cover page that includes 1) your full name, 2) date, 3) the name of this class (ANTHR 327), 4) the title of the book being reviewed, and 5) a word count of the essay. The uploaded PDF filename should include your LastName_FirstName-AUTHOR_Response in the file name, as in the following example: “Hickman_Jacob-YANG_Response.pdf”

Field Notes


There will be two field notes assignments throughout the semester. Because of the difficulty of having students in the class attend live Hmong ritual performances (not to mention a pandemic), we have developed an alternative. You will be provided two videos, one for each assignment. These are condensed versions of key Hmong rituals. Your assignment is to watch these videos, and immerse yourself in them. A cursory watching 'in the background' while you do other things will not do. These videos are quite raw. There is no narration, and it is not a documentary. Rather, they contain raw footage. The point is to immerse yourself into the footage and do what might be termed 'digital participant observation.' In other words, immerse yourself in the footage, pay attention to the details, use your growing knowledge of Hmong culture, symbolism, semiotics, and ritual practice to try and make sense of what is happening in the footage. For each of these assignments, try to write at least 2000 words of field notes that summarize your experience and analysis. Field notes are not a final paper, but rather they are a log of observations, insights, questions, and reactions that arise from your experience as an ethnographer and participant observer. They range from basic observation and description to analytical abstraction, as you think you are starting to see how the events you are observing make sense to the people involved in them. In order to help you, consider paying attention to the fine details of what you are observing: what concrete actions are the ritual experts and others undertaking, what might these things mean, how are people reacting to the ritual, what symbolism is involved, describe the tools and objects in detail, ask yourself how all of these relate back to what you are learning about Hmong culture and history. These raw field notes will be turned in by the deadline, as a PDF, to your individual assignment dropbox folder on Box. The uploaded PDF filename should include your LastName_FirstName-Fieldnotes1 (or 2) in the file name, as in the following example: “Hickman_Jacob-Fieldnotes1.pdf”

The video for the First Field Notes assignment can be found here. A higher definition version of the video can also be found on the Box readings folder (file name NewYear2019_RoughCut.m4v).

The Second Field Notes assignment will consist of two parts.  Instead of participant observation, this assignment will focus on another vital component of ethnography--interview. To start, you will need to watch the short documentary "The Split Horn: The Life of A Hmong Shaman in America." It can be accessed through this Kanopy.com link using your BYU login. Next, you will listen to an interview conducted by Dr. Hickman. The link to the interview is here. You can listen to the recording but it is non-downloadable and it is not to be distributed.

Short Paper

 

You will write a short paper summarizing one key insight that you gained into Hmong experience over the course of the readings and/or field notes assignments. The point of this short paper is to synthesize your understanding of some element of Hmong cultural experience and to make sense of it using your anthropological perspective. You are free to choose any element of Hmong culture that has been recurrently explored/expressed throughout the required readings for this course. Drawing from multiple of these sources, weave together an analysis of your chosen topic.  Be concise and focus your paper on a single phenomenon, so that you can analyze it in depth. This paper should be no longer than 1200 words. 

The short paper will be due by 11:59pm on the due date. It should be turned in via Box, uploaded as a single-spaced PDF, beginning with a cover page that includes 1) your full name, 2) date, 3) the name of this class (ANTHR 327), 4) “Short Paper” followed by your title for the paper, and 5) a word count of the essay. The uploaded PDF filename should include your LastName_FirstName-ShortPaper in the file name, as in the following example: “Hickman_Jacob-ShortPaper.pdf”.

Long Paper

 

In lieu of a final examination for this class, the summary assessment exercise will entail the writing of a final paper on some topic relevant to the global Hmong diaspora and Hmong culture. You need to provide your own, original, anthropological analysis of the topic that you researched. The specific topic for this final paper is up to you. It should be broader than the topic you wrote about in the short paper, and one key difference between these assignments is that the Long Paper must be based on original research. In other words, you must extend your research beyond the required readings for this course. This might include diving more deeply into a topic we covered in this course and doing additional research to flesh out that topic, or it might involve an investigation of a topic that we did not cover (or only covered in a cursory fashion) in the course readings and discussion. You may consider hmongstudies.org as a resource for finding relevant scholarship on your topic. You may also collect primary data through social media or other archives relevant to Hmong culture. The expected range for this final paper is 4000-7000 words. Be sure to clearly cite all of your sources, using the Chicago (Author-Date) citation format for in-text citations and your references cited list. The paper will be graded for its content and style, evidence of your original research, and your overall analysis of some dimension of Hmong culture that extends beyond the content on the course syllabus. A grading rubric can be found in the course readings folder.

The long paper will be due by April 21 at 11:59pm. An ungraded full draft of the long paper is also due by 11:59pm on April 14, the last day of class. This ungraded draft will not be graded for content, but the failure to turn in a complete draft will reflect negatively on your grade for the graded draft. The point here is to encourage you to draft the paper by the end of the semester, so that you are only revising this culminating paper during the final examination period. It should be turned in via Box, uploaded as a single-spaced PDF, beginning with a cover page that includes 1) your full name, 2) date, 3) the name of this class (ANTHR 327), 4) “Long Paper” followed by your title for the paper, and 5) a word count of the essay. The uploaded PDF filename should include your LastName_FirstName-LongPaper in the file name, as in the following example: “Hickman_Jacob-LongPaper.pdf”. Please add "DRAFT" to the filename of the ungraded draft, and please add "FINAL" to the filename of the final paper for grading.