The OBAltimore project meet my expectations in a way, but also exceeded them. I expected it to be an interesting and engaging experience and it was. I enjoyed going into Baltimore and having a conversation with Charles. I had meet Charles with my roommate briefly one time when he rented a car from him. When I met him I thought he would be a great interviewee because he was very approachable and charismatic. I had no idea what he knew about the topic but I was defiantly interested to hear from him. He met and exceeded my expectations. He was insightful, thorough, and knowledgeable. The biggest thing I learned from this was to try not to predict, assume, or expect certain responses from anyone. Not to say that I underestimated Charles but I defiantly got something I wasn’t ready for. From this project I can defiantly see why visual anthropology is used in study. Its so useful in recording what happened, and so much more effective, and interesting in my opinion, in relaying information than to use writing.
Category Archives: Hampden
The OBAltimore assignment was a very interesting experience to me as a student of anthropology. I interviewed a resident of Hampden; Ron, who has recently sold his home in the Hamden area of Baltimore. I thought this was an interesting experience to see the types of interviews counducted by anthropologists. It was also interesting to see a resident and teacher of the Hampden area’s opinion on President Obama, expecially after hearing so many people’s opinions of Obama around students and in the Towson area. As both a supporter and a voter for Obama I agreed with most of the things said. I think the most interesting part of the interview was being able to meet a new person who had a lot of interesting stories to tell and a lot of experiences. My mother is an elementary school teacher whose coworkers husband had worked with Ron for over ten years. My favorite part of the experience was getting to know Ron and learn about his life. He served in Vietnam, adopted a girl from Korea who was a graduate of Towson, and does contracting jobs for construction. Overall, I think this was a great experience and would recommend it for future classes.
Since the primaries for the office of presidency began for the 2008 election, there has been fervent, excited buzz in the air. For the first time in America’s history, there was not only a possibility but a likelihood that we would elect either a female president or a male president of a minority. Senator Obama, the African American candidate who succeeded through the primaries to become the Democrat running in the election, garnered a great deal of attention for his youthfulness, his immaculate campaign, his oratory skills, his dream of a new nation, and his color. On the night of the election, even before all the states had delivered their final counts of the polls, Obama was named victor, making him the first African American president of the United States. Needless to say, this has been a historically rich event, and the nation is more alert to its state than ever.
The election of 2008 had more buzz in the air aside from the candidates’ platforms and personalities; 2008 marked the end of George W. Bush’s incumbency, and to many Americans that was a good thing. With eight year of a Republican in office and a tremendous drop in popularity for W. Bush, the nation facing its largest deficit in history, a war that the vast majority of citizens did not support, the worst economy the nation has seen since the Great Depression, and various other alarming states the country is in, Americans were hungry for a change; change is what Obama promised us. Now in office, Obama faces one of the most complex and difficult checklists an American president has ever faced. As the nation watches what he intends to do, our assignment is to go into the cities where a large majority of the population is composed of minority demographics, to see what they think of all this…
Before my fieldwork, I prepared a fairly large sign that read, “What Do You Think of the Election of President Obama?” I drove into Baltimore on a Wednesday evening, and settled near the Paper Moon Diner, hoping to ensnare a few passers-by for a five minute-or-so interview of their thoughts. With a great deal of glares and general disinterest, I moved further towards the harbor. I eventually ended up in Federal Hill—a neighborhood often filled with inebriated middle to upper-middle class Americans on such a night. Nonetheless, I had four thought-provoking interviews with very different people.
The first young man was just out of college, and had very little to say other than his hopes that Obama will stop playing around and get down to business. The second interviewee was a soft-spoken middle-aged woman of Latin descent. She had insightful ideas surrounding the election as well of the future of the country, and ended the discussion with what she would like to say to Obama: “Do more, talk less.” The third interviewee was another young man who had helped in Obama’s campaign. He was excited by the possibilities of having him in office, and was actually the first to comment on how cool it is to finally have a man of a minority in office. The fourth interview was more or less composed of three persons’ opinions. One man greatly supported McCain and was more upset that he didn’t win the opportunity to turn around the nation that he was interested in how Obama will juggle his initiatives. The other man felt the election was one enormous popularity contest. The third member and only woman felt that he wasn’t taking his role as Head of State seriously enough. All three members had a great deal to say, and largely treated the interview as a discussion among friends (it was fantastic). Unfortunately for this first outing, my camera kept dying in the middle of interviews and eventually ceased working, and I had botched my recording of the consent forms, rendering all of my interviews useless.
On my second outing last night, I decided to head into the neighborhood of Hampden. This time I armed myself with the lack of a sign and extra batteries for the camera. My friend, Brooks, who just so happens to live in Hampden gave me a call to come visit, and gladly agreed to participate in my interviews. Brooks has lived in Hampden for about three years now, and has been in the surrounding area for much longer. His roommates, who also decided to join the discussion, each grew up in Baltimore. In interviewing them, I found they had slightly less opinionated responses and for the most part expressed their hopes of Obama rising to the occasion. All three seemed mostly content that W. Bush was no longer in office.
In my fieldwork, I was affected by the openness of complete strangers to listening ears. I’ve known many debates and political conversations, but none felt so involved as simply listening to what people had to say. I enjoyed this project very much, and I feel that many who participated felt it was beneficial as well. I was also pleased that I was posing questions that many of these people hadn’t been asked to answer before; they had to mull over their responses and took it seriously because they felt honored to have their voices heard. From this I take a new interest in simple listening, and I intend to interview strangers again, but for now the topic is unknown; it’s important just to care.
Going out into the field and interviewing a resident of Baltimore is a socially engaging task that has broadened my perspectives in a variety of ways. I went with a friend to the neighborhood of Hampden in order to interview a resident to gain an understanding of their views regarding the election of President Obama. I found that, when I got to Hampden and prepared to interview someone on the street, it was very difficult to actually just walk up to someone and approach them. Everyone seemed to be in their own little worlds with little desire to be bothered for an interview. The sun was going down and the pressure was on. Luckily, we ran across a very friendly and interactive man who was willing to answer some of my questions. The experience overall showed me that it doesn’t have to be a difficult and daunting task to engage a stranger in conversation. Rather, it can be good to broaden one’s horizons and interact outside of one’s immediate social circle. This fieldwork experience also has shown me how useful the medium of film is in the field of anthropology. After filming my interviewee, I observed that, in the act of catching the individual on camera, one can gain a greater understanding of an individual’s genuine feelings and reactions to questions that would not normally be appreciated in a context other than film. I have seen how engaging and representative of true life the visual media can be in the conducting of anthropological fieldwork. I appreciate having the opportunity to interact with the community at large, especially through the use of the visual media in this context.