At 12:58 pm on Friday, October 12, 2012, we arrived at the local mosque of the Islamic Community of Bryan-College Station (ICBS), parked on the side of the building, and walked around to the front entrance. While we waited for our ICBS point of contact to arrive, we had a good chance to observe some of the features of the room we were in. It was relatively large room, large enough to seat 300-400 people, with a balcony on the second floor to accommodate an overflow of people from the first floor. The ground was carpeted and the only pieces of furniture other than the bench we were sitting on were four or five bookshelves scattered around the room, all of which had Korans on them. We had also not seen a single woman since arriving, either outside or inside the mosque.
[Name omitted] arrived and we shook hands. He grabbed a Koran from off of the bookshelf and brought it over to us at the bench in the back of the room and began to explain what we were about ti see, as well as a considerable amount of background information on the Islamic faith in general and the Friday prayer ceremony. When we asked if women came to the mosque, he explained that they pray separately from the men, in the room directly behind us which had tinted glass – floor-to-ceiling windows through which they could see the men and the service progress, but the men could not see them. He also said that the children pray with the women. He explained all this, particularly the fact that women are kept from the view of men during prayer services, by stating that Continue reading
If you enjoyed conducting ethnographic fieldwork in College Station, Texas, you should consider registering for the first ever TAMU study abroad program featuring Argentine tango! Students will have the opportunity to learn how to dance the tango and perform tango music, while simultaneously analyzing the tango from an historical and ethnomusicological perspective. If interested, you can also join me in conducting research while in Argentina. Here is the link to find out more information and to register for the program! We hope to see you in Argentina!
Our class blog was transferred to a new server over Thanksgiving break. Unfortunately, during the migration all posts that were added to the blog since October 17th were lost. It also appears as though they were not properly backed-up and thus cannot be retrieved.
This is particularly disappointing considering that many of your recent Field Note Reports were added just prior to the server migration. Please be patient as I attempt to fix the problem. Also, be aware that you might receive an email from me requesting that you resubmit your materials.
I apologize for the inconvenience.
For those of you still looking for an event to attend for your projects, I just learned of this concert sponsored by Dr. Martin Regan in the Department of Performance Studies, as well as the Department of International Studies!
The Fall 2012 Events Calendar has been completed! Remember that all entries are student entries. Please double check event time, location, and venue before attending. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to call in advance. Please browse through all of the events when deciding on the event your group will attend. Here are just a few of the many events that stuck out to me as having a lot of potential for your project:
A First for MUSC 324:
- Simchat Torah Dancing, October 7th, permission required
- Contra Dancing, First Saturday of every month
- Texas A&M Heavy Metal Competition, 10/06/2012
- Jam Sessions – Good Time Charley’s, October 19
- Jazz Night School – Monday/Tuesday Evenings, The Frame Gallery
- Piano Practice – MSC Flag Room
- Bollywood Night – September 28th
- Brazos Valley WorldFest, November 9th-10th
- Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, November 9-10
- Texas Reds Festival, October 12-13
- First Fridays, Downtown Bryan, first Friday of every month
- Dandiya! (Hindu cultural celebration with dancing) – October 5th,
- Baithak (Student performers of Indian dance and music) – October 6
- Brazilian Capoeira (Martial Arts/Music/Dance) – Sporadic, contact organizer
- PERF Faculty Recital (wide variety of music, including experimental computer music, improvisation, and dance) – September 25
- Pablo Salcedo, Andean Flute, November 7th
- James Luna, Mexican-American multi-media performance artist, October 11
- Mariachi Music, Casa Rodriguez
- Salsa social dancing @ Village Cafe, Canana’s Night Club, Grahamas Night Club
- Belly Dance, Zumba, Hip-hop, and Tai Chi dance classes
- Poetry Slams & Open Mic – Revolution Cafe & Bar
This opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate at Texas A&M has added to my education by giving me the hands on experience into a field of research that I am least familiar with. I started my time here at A&M studying Biomedical Sciences and eventually decided to change my major to Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. Throughout my four years at Texas A&M I have been consumed with learning biological pathways and the scientific method. I have been through labs and conducted scientific research in its traditional form. In the lab, so much of the research conducted is based on previous studies and theories developed over long periods of time. In the lab, research is concrete and certain results can be expected. In these classes a teaching assistant will tell you how to conduct an experiment and what your results should convey. There are a set list of materials and procedures that you are required to follow; even small alterations of these steps can lead to insufficient or skewed data. In the wildlife field, research conducted is more hands on and based on observations much like anthropological studies. In the wildlife field methods and materials are flexible and can be altered to meet practical needs. In a sense, ethnography research is similar to wildlife research because it is very flexible and observations studies are the key to drawing Continue reading
Iranian pop musician Googoosh will perform live in Houston at 9:00 p.m. on September 15th, 2012 at the Hobby Center! If you’re not familiar with her music, you should check her out on youtube. Here is just one example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhWcAxo4qug Otherwise, we’ll talk about the socio-cultural and political significance of her music in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora later in the semester. In particular, we’ll exam her recent hit “I am Iran”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuBSrYEwN44
This concert unfortunately falls outside of the scope of our project, both because it occurs prior to the date your proposal is due and because it is in Houston. Regardless, if you are able to attend, this is a great opportunity to hear an internationally renowned popular musician relatively close to home. http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0C0048F0B6268B12
My experience as an undergraduate conducting fieldwork had a large influence [on] my perception of the diverse cultural groups at Texas A&M. My opinion of “diversity” initiatives has always been negative. Previously I’ve felt that a university has no business trying to enable or promote diversity on campus. I viewed diversity as serving to promote cultural fragmentation and thought that rather than bringing people together it actually just allowed groups to stick together more. I never understood why diversity served any benefit to the school and felt the resources could be better allocated in other areas.
My time in MUSC 324 and specifically as a cultural fieldworker helped change this perception. Continue reading
This post combines excerpts from a Field Note Report written by Adam Solomon, Audrey Roeder, and Josh Kelfer with a Guest Post by Adam Solomon. Before the end of the semester, Adam Solomon approached me to ask if he could write his blog post about the unintended consequences of conducting fieldwork with the very small Buddhist community in town. Although only two groups focused their projects on the Buddhist community, and each was required to receive written permission to do so from the organizer, I learned this semester that many other classes at Texas A&M are sending students to observe religious events in the community.
As researchers, we always have to consider whether the potential benefits of our research outweigh the potential risks to the people and cultures we are researching. Some of the religious communities we have worked with have informed me that they are very happy with the benefits of this project, however, every situation is different. In this case, as Adam points out below, we do need to consider if the risks in fact are greater than the benefits. While Adam seemed apprehensive to broach the subject with me, I am incredibly proud of his concern regarding ethical fieldwork practices.
Excerpt from Field Note Report: When Observers Outweigh Participants
On Sunday, March 25th, group ten had the pleasure of joining the Brazos Valley Buddhist Association for their weekly meditation session at the Unitarian Church. Although initial dialogue between the president revealed that members were apprehensive about allowing students to observe their service, we received an incredibly warm and gracious welcome from members upon arriving. In addition to four regular attendees, there were five students from another class and our group; totally twelve people […] The chants were monophonic Continue reading