“Surprising” would be a good to word to describe my Media Ethnography fieldwork. “Untimely” and “lucky” also could describe the whole experience just as well though. And after it was all done I look back on it as a positive experience. The untimely part of the experience is the date in which I decided to do the assignment. I left it up until last Thursday to do, but it was raining and I didn’t think many people would be too willing to participate. So after returning from my family’s “Early Thanksgiving” I decided to leave the project to do Monday the night before to add a little excitement and pressure to the situation. However all it did was force me do the one thing I tried to avoid on Thursday, going out to Baltimore in the rain.
So I got my Google Maps directions to the Inner Harbor and started driving. Within fifteen minutes I was lost but fortunately, unbeknownst to me, I had my friend’s GPS. I pulled over in a shopping mart parking lot to enter the address into Magellan and see there is a cop car parked in the lot. My first thought is a policeman is probably more than willing to help a student out right now since he seems to have some sort of down time where he is doing nothing particularly important. After turning me down by telling me “I don’t give out any personal information” he then went onto lecture me for five minutes about me giving out my own information. Only accomplishing two goals of wasting my precious time and causing me to get drenched by standing out the rain listening to his lecture.
After the failure I got into the car and used the GPS to get to the Inner Harbor. Upon arrival I paid a great parking fee of $10 for the whole forty minutes I was there, which really boosted my spirits. From there I walked the streets for ten minutes getting turned down another three times. Then all of a sudden I turn a corner and run right into a mall entrance. I was saved and my luck had turned! It was dry and filled with people increasing my chances to get the project done greatly.
Sike. I walked the mall for 10 minutes going floor by floor and started to notice by the third floor there wasn’t that many people in there as I thought. Also proving that another three people didn’t want to help me out. My luck was down and so was the morale. That was until I went to the fourth floor and the only person in the food court was a pleasant girl who was more than willing to help me out and do the interview. She was very interested in the project and read through all the papers carefully. Her answers were very different from what I expected and pretty inspirational. After the recording she told me a story from her native country of Cameroon that was very amusing and wished me luck with rest of my night.
On my drive back to my apartment I reflected on the night and concluded a one thing overall. What I thought was going to be a drag and a brutally boring night actually turned out to be the opposite. It was a night of moments of failure, depression and frustration, but also good fortune, relief and surprise. I definitely see this as a different experience and look back on it as something positive.
At first I was very uncomfortable with the idea of going into Baltimore and asking a complete stranger his or her opinions on the election. Those feelings may have surfaced when I finally did it as well, since I originally had some difficulty. I had asked a few different people, of varying ages and gender, and they to respectfully declined participation. I finally ran into Jessica, who was reluctant to give away too much information about her, but was still willing to answer my questions. When I approached her, I was just south of Northern Parkway on York Road, right in front of a gas station.
Jessica’s only brother is a marine, and is currently serving a second term in Iraq. Although she does not know too much about politics, including Obama’s policies, she is very concerned with her brother’s safety and seeing the marines out of harm’s way. Her story and the way she spoke about her brother really touched me. I have an older brother as well, so I was able to connect with her on how I would feel if I was in the identical situation. It was interesting speaking with her. I do not personally know of anyone fighting for this country, and could not imagine being in her position. She closely followed the debates and stances of both candidates prior to the election last year, ensuring that she would place her vote with the man who would protect her brother to the fullest. I can somewhat relate to her, as she wants to see change but is unsure of how it will actually happen.
It was very intriguing for me to act as an anthropologist for a day. We always come across numerous different individuals on a day-to-day basis, without knowing their story. The fact that I could both relate to her and learn something from her, all while stepping outside of my comfort zone to complete this task, was interesting to me. This project was worthwhile and I definitely feel proceeding classes should continue this project, so that they may gain the same experience.
At first I was dreading doing this project. I didn’t have a way to get into the city so I walked to Towson Town Center. I sat at the tables outside of Cinnabon for at least thirty minutes contemplating over whom to interview. I didn’t want to ask somebody in a group because I was too nervous. Eventually, I found a man sitting on a bench and decided to ask him. When I approached him I could immediately feel myself blushing. I told him I was doing a project for my anthropology class and needed to ask him a few questions about Obama and asked his permission if I could film him. He agreed and told me that he had voted for President Obama in the 2008 election. Once I started talking to him I calmed down a lot. It really helped that he seemed really personable and laid back. Looking back on this assignment, I would do it again. The hardest part for me was actually walking up to somebody, introducing myself, and asking them if I could interview them. I think if I would have asked somebody within the first five minutes of me sitting down, I would have been able to do the assignment in five minutes.
While completing my fieldwork assignment and conducting my interview with my participant, I reflected on a variety of thoughts regarding anthropology and what a fieldwork experience really offers the investigator. I feel that since completing this assignment, that I have a greater appreciation and understating of the variety of opinions and thoughts held by all the different people across the world regarding different issues.
I feel as though I did not realize the many differing opinions that people hold regarding different issues. For example, if I would poll 100 people about Barack Obama, I will likely get 99 –100 different answers. The media may not portray every opinion, and since media is where most of us get our ideas about others’ opinions from, that may be a negative as far as totally understanding the thoughts of others. My participant, John, for example, mentioned that he does not agree with Barack Obama’s decision regarding terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. It’s fascinating to me how many different opinions I could get regarding this one issue if I went around to different places and people and asked them about it. Furthermore, even if I did not do extensive work as far as traveling to different places and interviewing different people, it hit me that it does matter where you travel or who you interview with regards to opinions. The opinion of Obama is going to chance going from West Baltimore to Chicago, or Washington D.C. to California or Arizona. This is fascinating to me and something that I enjoy as I like getting different sides of the coin as far as arguments and popular, passionate issues are concerned.
Being part of anthropological fieldwork certainly opened my eyes, not so much because of the experience and work that I put into this, but because of the possibilities that I realized and uncovered. I have a much better understanding of what it takes to do anthropological research, and I feel that by doing this one small assignment, that I gained much more awareness and understanding than I would have in one or two classes.
In the future, I will be more aware of the different opinions that are out there involving different topics. For example, when I see abortion being discussed on Larry King, I will realize that so many different people have so many different opinions on it. It’s not a matter of it being one side or another; there is so much that goes into it and it is completely fascinating to me to get the perspective of so many, and how different each perspective is. I thoroughly enjoyed this project and I would be open and excited to complete similar and more extensive ones in the future.
I met Dan through the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Highlandtown. After working together, getting to know one another, and becoming new friends, I figured Dan would be a willing (and convenient) interviewee for the OBAltimore project; which consequently would allow us a legitimate excuse to hang out outside of work while drinking beer and eating pizza.
I called Dan to describe the project to him and he readily agreed to participate. He asked me where I wanted to conduct the interview. I explained to him that I’d like to document the interview via still photography and audio recording at his home. He responded by saying, “Well, you know I live on a boat, right?” I did not know that Dan lived on a boat.
These are the circumstances that led to finding myself climbing aboard Dan’s house boat; beer, pizza, camera, and IC Sony recorder in hand for a fantastic interview. As it turns out, Dan bought the boat with a friend from college a few years ago. It was a complete junker but they fixed it up enough to drop it in the water without worrying about it sinking. Because the boat slip rentals are relatively cheap (cheaper than a mortgage or apartment rental at least), Dan and his friend moved onto the boat and lived there together. His friend has since moved out so Dan presently has the boat to himself.
I went into the interview expecting Dan to answer the OBAltimore questions differently than he did. I had the preconceived notion that he would have a lot to say about race in particular because Dan is not white. What I learned on the day of our interview, however, is that Dan is not black either. Dan’s mother is Japanese and his biological father was black. He never met his biological father. Dan was born in Baltimore and was raised by his Japanese mother and her husband, a Japanese man. Dan does not self-identify as black. He is a Japanese-American who was raised in a Japanese-speaking home.
Not only did Dan’s interview leave me with a lot of thoughtful material, but it also reaffirmed my passion for anthropology. When I first read about this project, I had no idea that it would lead to partying it up on a boat in the Chesapeake. The possibilities are limitless within this realm of academia and I am completely in love with it.
Right from the start I was excited to do this project because it involved film and that’s my minor and because I like Baltimore in a weird way I can’t really explain. I feel like I can make a difference here and I want to make my mark here. So going into this assignment I already had it planned out for the most part and I did really feel like I would have any major surprises and that’s what got me off guard.
When ever I was in Baltimore I always saw run down areas and homes but didn’t really think anything much of it than the random thought of, “well that’s just Bmore”. I never took the time to really think why some communities looked like this and why they weren’t being fixed or even recognized by the city.
It wasn’t until I started trying to interview people that I found the other side. And finding people to interview was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was getting turned down left and right. But I got two young adults to help me for this project, Devin and Amanda. The thing that surprised me about their interviews was the fact that both of them didn’t see any change in their communities directly besides for Devin speaking on the crime being lowered.
I didn’t truly understand this until I did the Sharp Leadenhall extra credit and speaking will Ms. Betty. The community is a nice place to live but was getting beat up by everything and everyone around it and nobody cared besides for the people within it. I learned a lot that day about working together and being strong together and fighting to keep their way of life alive.
For my media ethnography assignment I went down to the Fells Point area with another student from our class. We parked somewhere between Eastern Avenue and Fleet Street on Wolfe Avenue I believe. When we first got out of the car and started walking it was apparent that we were in a Latino neighborhood. Personally growing up in Cockeysville, Maryland there are not many parts of the city I haven’t seen but somehow this area was new to me which was kind of cool. We started walking around kind of aimlessly just looking for people who weren’t in a rush. First we came upon three older people who were sitting on their stoop as we walked up to them and started conversing, one had said that he didn’t have an opinion on O’bama’s presidency. In my opinion that is quiet hard to believe. So we turned around and on the corner there was a barber shop. When Sarah and I walked in, all eyes were on us. You could tell they were thinking, “What the hell are these two white girls doing here?” I kind of choked up so Sarah began to explain to them why we were there. They told who I am assuming was the newest guy who was maybe an assistant of some sort to do it. Sarah interviewed him but I still needed someone to interview, so he offered to ask around for me, but no one else would do it. We thanked them for our time and left. Next we went across the street to a dry cleaner, but it turned out that they did not live in Baltimore City. I saw a cool looking bohemian café further down the road and we decided to try there. The first waiter who came up to us agreed to let me interview him which was awesome cause it didn’t seem like we would have any luck after walking in because it was a restaurant style café. Fortunately Scott kindly let me interview him and finally me and my friend were headed home but not before stopping at Mr. Zogotu for ice cream. I really enjoyed my experience going to the city to find people to interview for this media project, and it was a lot easier than I expected. I would consider it a worth while experience.