Anth 201 Language Culture Power
Final Paper Template (see also Guidelines for Writing in Anthropology)

Grounded in ethnographic methods, cultural and linguistic anthropology emphasize an 'inductive" approach to research and cross-cultural/linguistic understanding. We seek ways to bring our own deeply held cultural and linguistic assumptions into critical dialogue with those of others. We do this in order to avoid as much as possible projecting our values, categories and worldviews onto others' experiences and situations. The aspiration is for the approach to be more "bottom up" than "top down" (e.g., in "deductive" forms of research that start with a preconceived model). This also means that anthropologists must constantly test the applicability of social theories that claim to explain human experience across vast cultural and linguistic differences.

Thus any good anthropology paper includes both explicit discussion of theory/method and compelling ethnographic and/or historical description. We try to make our theoretical and methodological assumptions, as well as any potential problems with them, clear at the beginning of the paper.

Here is a typical structure of an anthropology paper aimed at analyzing a specific ethnographic case or event.

Title: reflects the thesis or main point of your paper

1) (Optional) 1-2 paragraph descriptive vignette from the event

  •  Narrative voice: compellingly written in narrative form
  •  Draws reader into the setting, introduces main participants
  •  Gives reader a glimpse of the issues and stakes

2) 2-4 paragraphs opening section explicating main theory/methods

  • More "academic" voice: answer the question: what can a linguistic anthropological approach contribute to understanding the dynamics of this event?
  • Lay out your main questions and define principle methodological terms (don't assume your reader knows these terms or why they're important!)
  • Describe main problems or issues to address
  • Give a sense of how the paper will be organized and follow it
  • Draw on readings from the syllabus to discuss main debates
  • Use multiple forms of citation to directly engage texts (direct quotes, paraphrase  and in-text citation, mentions of theorists' names, etc)
  • Give the reader a sense of what a theorist's main goal is in a piece you cite for the first time
  • (Optional here or below in no. 3) introduce the reader to your main ethnographic methods, address ethics, how you attended meetings, etc.
  • End with a thesis statement: the controlling idea of the essay, presents topic and writer's perspective on it. Explicitly state what you will argue is going on in this event.

3)  2-3 paragraphs introduction to the social, cultural and/or political economic nature of the event to be analyzed.

  • Describe the social space and structure of relations of the event(s)
  • Give a sense of the demographics of participants (how many, race, class, gender, age, occupation, what social roles, etc.)
  • Give a sense of the nature of the organization and its goals
  • Focus in on describing the key aspects of the event you think are most illuminating and why.

4) 3-6 pages main analysis of the event

  • Each paragraph should have clear topic sentence, linked to main thesis and  supported by evidence.
  • Return to the theory or terms you introduced in the opening paragraphs
  • Show how they apply to understanding important language/culture politics in the event
  • Quote and paraphrase theorists by name to back up your points or critique theirs'
  • Use excerpts of your transcription in text to illustrate key parts of the event

5) 1-2 paragraphs conclusion

  •  Return to your main terms and the questions you raised in the opening
  •  Clarify and render compelling (don't just summarize) what you concluded
  •  Emphasize the larger stakes of these dynamics (power, inequality, resistance, etc)

6) Bibliography

7) Appendix with transcription of an interaction you analyze in the paper (including transcription key)