On Arriving in Minneapolis
Airports give great opportunities to read, research and reflect
On Arriving in Minneapolis
First off, Happy New Years! It is a wonderful time and place I find myself in, to be in the Minneapolis Airport, waiting to visit Augsburg College, in January. Having never been to this part of the country, I am already enthralled and amazed by some of the differences I observe here, the most obvious of these being the presence of snow, clouds and weather, a commodity lacking in Tucson this time of year, where tshirts and shorts are not uncommon. The differences here are so very interesting, and so very beautiful.
As I travel, I remembered my duty to my blog, and thought about the conversations I have been having, and about the directions of my scholarship, especially as it relates to teaching and working with students new to anthropological and educational research.
One course that I am currently working on is Communities of Practice studies, where undergraduate students pursue anthropological ethnographic research to learn method and theory. Students are guided to responsibly conduct research in educational settings to learn about the workings of culture, the participation of individuals in those communities of practice, and to consider the ways that this participation and activity might impact students’ experience in learning and schooling processes.
We must not approach the study of a culture with a preconceived notion of its correctness, but rather, examine it for legitimacy from the emic perspective of its participants
Reading the most recent issue of Anthropology and Education Quarterly, I was inspired by a study conducted by Hayashi & Tobin, Contesting Visions at a Japanese School for the Deaf. In their exploration of deaf education, and Deaf culture, the scholars provide excellent, and fundamental reminders to all who conduct anthropology research, especially as regards to the essential importance of impartially viewing cultural productivity from an asset based perspective. In this sense, we must not approach the study of a culture with a preconceived notion of its correctness, but rather, examine it for legitimacy from the emic perspective of its participants.
Quoting Hayashi and Tobin, the practice must be to explore the implicit “cultural argument” and thus studied ethnographically.
“Rather than assume that one of these positions is correct and the others are wrong headed, we seek to understand each of the contesting positions on its own terms and to present each of our informants as we believe they see themselves and would like to be seen by others” (Hayashi & Tobin, 2015, p. 380).
This is a an excellent explication of seeking the emic perspective; the study which examines the two camps in deaf education, the audists and the Deaf culturalists, and offers a unique study into Deaf culture, also serves as an excellent road map for research practice. Exploring positions of individuals in their respective cultures without assuming deficit posits the centrality of the lived experience of the participants as being worthy of examination and understanding.
Hayashi, A., & Tobin, J. (2015). Contesting Visions at a Japanese School for the Deaf. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 46(4), 380–396.
Augsburg College photo (http://www.tkinter.smig.net/outings/Augsburg1/index.htm)