An ethnographic interview is a vital part of a cultural anthropologist’s toolkit when doing fieldwork. It may involve something as structured as a poll taken when exiting a place of business (questions asking about someone’s shopping experience with a printed out form, for example), or it can be something as unstructured as a casual conversation.
For this class, you will be both anthropologist as well as key informant in a pair interview that will begin on 5/4 and will continue in the following weeks. Below I have a brief overview of how this assignment will work, along with some other important information. More information will be opened in this module as we go through the assignment weeks.
We will be doing what is known as a semi-structured interview (a little more structured than your typical semi-structured interview as this is a class assignment). The questions will be approved by the instructor beforehand. Additionally, the questions within an ethnographic interview aim at getting detailed responses from your key informants, and this assignment will focus on “classical” ethnographic-type questions. Traditionally, these “classic” style questions has the key informants responding to questions about their culture in a big-picture sense. In other words, classical anthropological ethnographic interview questions usually refrain from asking super personal questions, potentially embarrassing questions, or any questions that would otherwise make your key informant uncomfortable.
Ultimately, it’s about building a genuine connection with your key informant to establish rapport with them.