Anthropology Terms Abroad

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Handouts and Assigments
1999 Fiji Term Abroad

written by Karen Brison and Steve Leavitt

Week 1 Sept. 6-12
•   Market and Shops
•   Field Notes Guide
•   Coping with Culture Shock
•   Advice from Barbados
Week 2 Sept. 13-19
•   Census and Maps
Week 3 Sept. 20-26
•   Genealogy and Kin Terms
Week 4 Sept. 27-Oct. 3
•   Economics Surveys
•   Social Structure Writeup
•   Project Proposal
Week 5 Oct. 4-10
•   Economics Writeup
•   The Life Cycle
Week 6 Oct. 11-17
•   Life Cycle Writeup
Week 7 Oct. 18-24 in Taveuni

Week 8 Oct. 25-Nov. 1
•   Ritual Writeup
•   Religion
Week 9 Oct. 1-Nov. 7
•   Cultural Models

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Karen Brison, Steve Leavitt

This first assignment is designed to help you get used to the idea of collecting information by asking questions. It will also have the added benefit of introducing you to the town so that in the future people will have a better sense of why you are here. Be willing to tell people who you are and why you are here, how long you'll be here, and so forth. Tell them you will be living in "a village" if they ask you about that. Buy some products—you can do Karen's shopping, and you also can buy some things for yourselves to have in your room.

Market vendor

A market vendor in Vaileka shows his products

Market: Megan, Erinn, Andy

The market is a feature of every small town in Fiji. It is an integral part of everyone's shopping, as well as being a livelihood for vendors. Saturday is the best market day, so there are some products that will likely be available only then. We will try to get you back to the market at some point so you can tie up loose ends in your questioning and you can check out the products available. If we do get there, include in your notes a discussion of the difference between weekdays and Saturday.

Begin together, talking to a couple of the merchants, but then after a little while split up and each of you can do a different section of the market (this way we won't have two of you at different times coming to the same merchant and asking the same kinds of questions). Make sure to include the section of the market that is outside the building. Here is the information that you will want to collect:

Vaileka street

One of Vaileka's three main streets

Shop Vendors: Stephanie & Michelle, Emily & Apryle

We have for some time had a real interest in the various shops in Vaileka. There seem to be many small stores selling similar products, competing directly with each other. They seem to operate with very slim profits, with long work hours for family members. We also have the impression that there is an ethnic division of labor, with most, if not all, of the owners being Indo-Fijians, and many employees being Fijians. There are also Muslims and Hindus. There may be some sort of split in which stores are run by whom. It's not clear its significance.

Begin in pairs, talking to a couple of the merchants, but then after a little while split up and each of you can do different shops. Concentrate on the less busy shops where the proprietors may have time to talk with you. Try to talk with both proprietors and employees. Make sure to include the section of the market that is outside the building. Try to make it clear that you're asking these questions just as part of your own work, not as anything "official" or judgmental. It's a good idea to start off by shopping for something, and then strike up conversations. Buy some things that you're really interested in finding: mosquito coils, extension cords, flashlight (called "torch" here), sulus, batteries, etc. There is no reason to buy many things at any one shop; just get one or two things at each.

For everyone: Be prepared for answers that are not complete, or are not what you are looking for. Some people may have some trouble with your accents, so speak clearly and use simple direct language. Try to be personable. Once the research is done you should compare notes (it might be a good idea to do a bit of this before you leave town in case you come up with some real discrepancies and then you can do a more thorough comparison of notes when you get back to the hotel). You can use each other's notes (add the new information to your own notes), but then when you write the notes up in a more organized fashion to turn into us, you should do this independently. We will want notes from each of you. Give these to us on Thursday.

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