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Interviewing someone about their life story.

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This paper topic involves selecting an individual and obtaining a life history of that individual.
Sometimes, students choose to produce a history that concentrates on just one portion of
someone’s life. Perhaps you might choose to do a history of your grandmother’s childhood
(e.g. Growing Up in Huntington Beach) or about dating practices in the 1960 and 70’s etc.. You
might also choose to concentrate on someone’s work history (e.g. working in the Postal Service
of California). Your life history must be a history of a living individual whom you will interview
during this next week (no histories of deceased relatives, etc.). Many possibilities are open to
you. See me for ideas. You will be expected to protect the anonymity of your informant and
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should not use real names without written permission from the individuals involved (to be turned
in with your paper). What you turn in:
You will turn in a written report in which you will formulate this interview into a cohesive essay
(2-3 pages) written in the third person (he, she, they etc.). This paper should be in your words
and not just a repetition of the words of the individual you are interviewing. This portion should
also include observations about non-verbal behavior such as body language or sound of voice,
laughing, crying etc. You will also include a second part that describes how you went about
preparing and conducting the interview (1-2 pages) as well as a list of your questions and the
notes from the interview. You may add photos as visual documentation if you think it will help
the reader to understand your project.
A note on ethnographic reflexivity:
In the second part of the assignment please be sure to include reflections on things like how
conducting the interview affected you as the ethnographer. Did you follow the rules of
participant observation? How did you prepare your questions, did the interview go as you had
planned? Why or why not. Did you have to remind yourself of ethnocentric attitudes you may
have and when learning about a different culture? What have you learned from this exercise
about the larger implications of anthropological interviewing techniques?
Format of the paper (and all future paper assignments)
? double spaced
? all pages must be stapled together
? 11- 12 point Font -Roman Times (or Arial Font 10)
? 1 inch margins all around
? the top of the first page, or cover page, must include your name and course
number/meeting time (i.e. 21221 for Tuesday/ Thursday 8:00 -9:25am)
? pages must be numbered
? photos must be numbered and included at the end, they do not count
towards the page count

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