Spring 2023 - SA 875 G100

Ethnographic Methodology: Social/Cultural Anthropology (5)

Class Number: 2592

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Fri, 12:30–4:20 p.m.



In depth study of ethnographic methodology as practiced, theorized and debated by social and cultural anthropologists. Course will include anthropological analyses of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to, and adaptations of, ethnographic methodology and methods. Elective course for MA and PhD students in Sociology and Anthropology. Students from other departments and faculties may enrol with permission of instructor. Course will be offered in response to student demand, dependent on availability of departmental resources.


This course introduces students to qualitative research methods through a combination of readings, discussions, and exercises. Ethnographic methodologies will be a main focus, and we will discuss their applications for different disciplines, including anthropology and sociology, and in regards to different audiences.

By working individually, as a class, and in small groups, we will practice observation and note-taking, discuss writing strategies and practices, prepare for and conduct different kinds of interviews, consider how to work with text, objects, and performative enactments, and experiment with multimodality. Some of the questions we will address include: for which audiences do we write, and which communities do we speak to? How do we decide on a research site? How do we address the sensory and affective aspects so central to social life and to research engagements? What are some of the ethical dilemmas that can emerge during our research? How does theory inform our research practices and in turn, how do our methods help us rethink and re-focus our theoretical directions? How do our questions and inquiries add to, complicate, rethink or challenge what counts as knowledge in different contexts and the alliances and conflicts it can generate?

Taking in consideration the current pandemic, we will also discuss how we could adapt and transform our research projects and methodologies - including how to do research online. Throughout the course, students will work on developing their own research proposals and on choosing methods they can use in their graduate research projects.


Students will be able to:

  • design a research prospectus, including formulating a research question, choosing methods that will help answer their questions, and identify possible research locations and participants;
  • practice interviewing, transcribing, observing, and representing findings in multiple media;
  • describe different aspects of ethnography as a method and as an orientation to knowledge;
  • discuss decolonization in research, identify and evaluate ethical issues that can emerge during research;
  • identify some of the larger issues, contexts, and scholarly debate their topics are connected to


  • Letter to an author/ethnographer 10%
  • Observation exercise (includes fieldnotes, multimodal exercise, and observation) 15%
  • Interview assignment 25%
  • Research proposal 50%


Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10-S10.05).  Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



Greaves, L., Reid, C., and Kirby, S. (2017). Experience, research, social change: Critical methods. (Third ed.). University of Toronto Press. (Please note: this book is available digitally from the library, but with restrictions)

Other readings will be available through CANVAS and/or the SFU Library.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html