Ethnography Questions

What is the central question at stake in Chapter 7, Ordinary Men’s Initiation to Mass Murder? Using three carefully crafted illustrations, discuss how this subject is presented ethnographically.
The author identifies the tragedy that followed the mass murder at Jozefow as the main topic in Chapter 7. Major Trapp assigned the First and Second commanders to the task of collecting Jewish men and transporting them to Lublin. Children, mothers, and the elderly were supposed to be protected. The ethnographic study team undertook a series of interviews with witnesses to the gruesome scene, as well as other players in the killing, to hear what they saw. In the chapter, the researcher notes down the experience of an “inclined” policeman who was at the scene. He narrates, “… I remember exactly that for this demonstration he drew or outlined the contour of a human body, at least from the shoulders upward, and then indicated precisely the point on which the fixed boyanet was to be placed as an aimed guide” (Browning 60). The narration accounts for the vivid preparation made by Major Trapp and his troop for the brutal murder of the Jewish mass.

The terror of the mass murder could also be reflected through the way the major was reacting. Trapp is scared about the incidents, and fails to hide his fears from his subordinates. The researcher narrates how Trapp avoided the forest where the mass killings occurred. He narrates, “Trapp spent most of the day in town, either in a schoolroom converted into his headquarters, at the homes of the Polish mayor and the local priest…. But he did not go to the forest itself or witness the executions…” (Browning 57). This description is an observation that the researcher noted during the massacre. The ethnographer also uses various witnesses to Trapp’s reaction towards the murder incidents. For instance, one of the witnesses remembered, “how Trapp, finally alone in our room, sat on a stool and wept bitterly. The tears really flowed” (Browning 58). The major also felt that the mass killing was unjustified, and thus, felt uncomfortable with the orders made.

What is the key issue at stake in Chapter 9, omazy: The Descent of Second Company, of Ordinary Men? Discuss how this issue is portrayed ethnographically using three carefully developed examples?

The chapter describes the role of the Second Company on the mass killings at Lomazy. The author narrates the preparation of Jews mass killing by the Reserve Police Battalion 101 in the northern sector. Under the command of Lieutenant Gnade, the Second Company was assigned key areas including the Ralzyn, Pulawy, and Biala Podlaska. The Second Company had deported over 3000 Jews to Sobibor from Baila where they were to be shot. The author describes the role of the soldiers to be “roundup” after the shooting work was done by the Trawniki Unit. One way the ethnographer collected information is through interviews of the witnesses and participants in the mass killings. In describing how the Jews were killed, Sergeant Toni Bentheim narrated, “The march proceeded extremely sluggishly. Presumably at the front they went too fast and pilled on the rope, so that at the back end they bunched together in a giant cluster… Jews that fell this way and lay on the ground behind the column were ruthlessly driven forward or shot” (Browning 81). The Lieutenant recalls how he participated in the shooting of the Jew, this account is important since it is a primary data source.

A key ethnographical context of the text is the narration of those who committed the murder. The author explains how the shooters drunk throughout to drown their sorrows of the witnessed loss of lives. The policemen who never drunk noted, “Most of the other comrades drank so much solely because of the many shootings of Jews, for such a life was quite intolerable sober” (Browning 82). The policemen, including Gnade drunk senselessly to forget the traumatic events of taking lives of others. Another ethnographic element used is the narration of the shooting process; the author explains how the Jews filled the graves. He states “In their state of intoxicated excitement, the Hiwis initially began shooting the Jews at the entry to the grave… Thus some Jews went into the grave and pulled the corpses away from the entry… and the Hiwis took their positions on the walls that had been thrown up. From there they shot the victims” (Browning 83). These events revealed the painful way through with the Second Company murdered the Jews.

What is the key issue at stake in Chapter 6, Free Love, of Anarchists? Discuss how this issue is portrayed ethnographically using three carefully developed examples.

In chapter 6, the key issue the author considers is the characteristics of Free Love among the Anarchists. One of the aspects of this form of love is the lack of union; it does not require legal ties or interceding by priests in order to show commitment. On the contrary, those involved, the Obriero consciente and his companera, make their personal commitment to love and cherish one another through lifetime. The issue of Free Love is shown ethnographically through the statements made by the Anarchists who believe in this form of love as well as evidence of the existing unions. One of the anarchists, Pepe Pareja, explains his understanding of Free Love. He states, “… It means that a woman has the same right as a man. But to have free love one must be educated, one must have intellectuality… If one does not have equal passion, one must not take advantage of a woman” (Mintz 92). Pepe’s interpretation of Free Love is different from what the contemporary society understands of the term.

The author also collects ethnographic data regarding the characteristic of Free Love through observation. He notes that Anarchists believed that two people can get united even without the presence of priests. He narrates the story of Pepe Pilar who postponed going to the priest for formalize his marriage. However, because of the pressure he received from his wife and mother-in-law, he agreed to fulfill their desires but after they had given birth to their fourth child (Mintz 93). Another ethnographic example used by the author is the Free Love union between Pepe and Antonia. Amidst the fact that Antonia’s father was a sindicato member who did not accept free union, the two went against odd to get married. In September 1914, they celebrated their union, and lived happily ever after. Antonia’s father came to accept the union on his deathbed.

What is the key issue at stake in Chapter 13, The Uprising at Casas Viejas, of Anarchists? Discuss how this issue is portrayed ethnographically using three carefully developed examples.

The issue addressed in Chapter 13 is the attack of the Civil Guard barracks by the anarchists and the aftermath. The incidences that occurred on the day of the attack as well as the resulting curfew and guard patrol are described by the author. A key ethnographic method of data collection that the research uses to gain insight of the incident is through interview. Various witnesses like Antonia Marquez Mateo and Juan Moreno give their account of how the day was. According to Juan, “everybody marched behind each other in columns of one or two. They had armbands, shotguns, flags, and pistols. They all matched around the town—all the workers” (Mintz 201). On the day of the attack, Juan reveals that the anarchists paraded in town, ready to attack the barracks.

Another example of an ethnographic data collection observed in the chapter is the account of the incidents that occurred by the war perpetrators. Cristobal, for instance, explains how they engaged in the battle, and their attempt to kill both Sergeant Garcia and Guard Roman Garcia Chuesca. Cristobal, further explains how they shot the Sergeant and his guard. He stated, “they went in, and immediately the sergeant opened the window. He didn’t say anything, and we didn’t say anything to him. Zorrito fired and hit the sergeant and the guard with the same cartridge round” (Mintz 203). This statement confirms about the person that killed the anarchist enemy. Circumstantial victims of the incident are also described in the chapter to show ethnographic review. Andres Vera is an example of such community members who described the incident. “at ll.00 they came to the house asking for me, and the woman of the house became very nervous and said I was probably at the church. But they said no… (Mintz 205). Since she was at the danger of losing her life to the guards in town, Vera admitted to stay indoors.

Discuss how the concept of hegemony contributes to our understanding of how the system of rural domination was maintained in Casas Viejas. In particular, what role did religion play in the exercise of hegemony? Give three specific ethnographic examples.

Hegemony refers to the traditional intellectual used to control the society in which people’s decisions were to be based on the set norms and values. In Casas Viejas, there was persistent rural domination by the hegemonic ideology, with every individual expected to follow the established rules. Religion played a great role in controlling the society; every individual was expected to formalize their marriage. Those who did not were either abandoned by their parents, or seen as outcasts by the society. Ethnographically, this phenomenon is revealed when Antonia narrates her own experience; she states, “there were many girls who had said they wanted to marry this way, but after they saw what happened to me, they backed off” (Mintz 98). This reveals the strength of the hegemonic society to control the people; the girls scared off to follow their own wishes.

Hegemony could be seen to dominate the society in the context of Antonia’s relationship with the parents after she decided to go for free union. She was beaten up by the father for defying the beliefs of the society. Consequently, the parents abandoned her; the narrator explains, “And when I got close to him, face to face, he says, “Get away! Get out of my sight! I don’t want to see you. Get out of my sight, for I don’t want to see you.”” The father was willing to disown her because she defied the hegemonic beliefs. A key role of religion could also be revealed when Jose Olmo was born; although he did not get baptized, his parents were congratulated in a unique manner, “Our sincere congratulations to these companeros for the strength of their convictions in removing themselves from the bureaucratic procedures used by black-clothed priests” (Mintz 95). This symbolizes the role of priests as being crucial in the hegemonic society.

Discuss how the notion of the organic intellectual is particularly relevant for an understanding of the nature and operation of anarchism. Give three specific examples from the text.

Unlike traditional knowledge or intellectual, organic intellectual, coined by Antonio Gramsci, entails formulation and defense of a specific idea that is different from the hegemonic beliefs, and as such, hold unique perception from the norms. The anarchists are formulated by a group of people with unique understanding of what love and union is. For them, they hold that Free Love is about a commitment between two people who truly love each other, and do not need unjustified commitments to prove. As such, the anarchists would hold their views and adhere to them regardless of the hegemonic society. In the case of Pepe and Antonia, both are married even though her father was against it. The ethnographer uses her narration to explain the significance of organic intellectual; she states, “My father didn’t want me to marry Pepe, because I would be the first of my friends to marry this way” (Mintz 97). This is an evidence of the role of organic intellects in countering the hegemonic ideas.

Through the ideology of organic intellects, the ethnographer reveals that anarchists respect the aspect of free union and will always defend their stance. An example of a couple who believed in the free union were Jose and Maria; when they arrived in Casas Viejas, already they were having three kids. When they added the fourth, Acracia, they were branded “Fruits of a Free union” (Mintz 95). The two described their home as “one formed by the free union of said companeros, one may breathe the air of those freed from all prejudice with their children.” Unlike the traditional intellectual where decisions are imposed on the society, the anarchists believed in freedom of choice as expressed in the free union. The affection that existed between Jose and Maria also showed the persistent, genuine love that exists among the Anarchists.

The Bicycle Thieves examines how poverty shaped human predicaments in the immediate Post-War II period in Italy. Although the film is not about politics per se, it was meant to have a strong political impact. Describe three politically charged scenes from the film and how an Italian audience would have understood them when the film was released in 1948.

The film, Bicycle Thieves, portray the lifestyle that the Italians led after World War II. Much debate can argue that most of the scenes in the film reflect political statements that influenced the movement of the film plot. During the War, Italy had been dominated by dictatorship of a single-party governments; this later changed after the War with the citizens gaining democracy and equality. The principles that changed could be witnessed in the cinemas, and the Bicycle Thieves have been molded by the political atmosphere of the area. The characters in the play are normal people, the workman, Ricci, his child, Bruno, who wonders in the street, and the wife, Maria, who is a writer. By looking at three different scenes in the film, one is able to understand the political significance of the storyline.

One major scene observed is when Antonio and Maria sell off their bed linens in order to purchase a bicycle that Antonio Ricci needs for work. The camera shows a heap of bed-linen in the store which tends to remind the viewers of the extensive nature of unemployment in Italy at the time. The sadness in the eyes of the characters show how painful it is for them to give out the linens just to get some money. Politically, the selling of the bed-sheets reveal the level of depression in the country after the World War II. Italians were very poor to the extent that they had to sell of their basic items to survive. If interpreted by the Italians in 1948, the residents could have admitted to the resulting unemployment which they would blame on the war.

In another scene, viewers observe Ricci reporting to the police about his stolen bicycle. The policemen direct him to the piles of similar cases that had been reported by the citizens. His account of incident, and being told to look for it himself shows how the theft cases in the area are rampant. This can be viewed politically; there are no law enforcement to ensure that crime rate in the country is controlled. Additionally, those in the political office do not work towards eradicating poverty or crime rate. The last scene is also important; Ricci is caught stealing a bicycle he believe is his. Instead of being reported, the owner of the bicycle lets him free and does not report him. This can be interpreted politically as a sign of peace and reconciliation among the citizens. Amidst the fact that there is increased poverty in Italy with high cases of unemployment, the citizens still possess empathy and the will to reconcile after the war. These two scenes could also be linked to the War by the Italians at the time.

In Navigators of the Contemporary what does David Westbrook mean by a re-functioned ethnography? How does the approach to ethnography advocated by Westbrook provide a method for political anthropology?

David Westbrook describes re-functioned ethnography to include a form of ethnography conducted in the contemporary society, and adheres to more complex ethical standards and subjects that require more knowledge and skills from the researcher. One reason for the complexity is the relocation and movement of subjects from one place to another. Westbrook claims that, “rather than being embedded I a defined place in which relationships have been established and are repeated, today many people move” (Westbrook 46). The author acknowledges that relationships have changed as well as human contexts as a result of the economic shift and other concerns. Thus, a re-functioned ethnographer is forced to restructure his/her perception and ask questions different from those in the past, including how things are being done, as well as who does them and where.

Westbrook advocates for high level of watchfulness among ethnographers. He explains that all ethnographers must be observant and critical in their analysis. They should presume to have seen in order to make right judgment; they must keep watching phenomena from a distance and evaluating every scenario. What separates an ethnographer from an anthropologist is the fact that the latter may be too academic that he dissociates from the real world. Anthropologists’ perspectives are different from their subjects due to their “academic” perspectives (Westbrook 49). For ethnographers, however, the questions of present situations are fascinating, and may consider them relevant for survival at the angle of the subjects. This concept is relevant to political ethnography; while analyzing political subjects, it is important to relate to them, and instead of using theoretical frameworks to understand the political context, the ethnographer must be able to personally relate to the subjects on a personal level in order to make proper analysis.

An important aspect of re-functioned ethnography the author addresses is the conversation between the ethnographer and the subjects. According to Westbrook, ethnographers of the contemporary society have complex associations with the informants or subjects. The process always constitutes multiple subjects who have relations to one another. The fieldwork contours, according to the author, are determined by the relations that the ethnographer creates in the field with the critical subjects (Westbrook 51). The complexity of the process is compared to a theatre in which a lot of production is involved including synchronization and establishment of disconnected items. With various problems accompanying the ethnographer including high dependence on the subjects and lack of interest of the subjects to participate, re-functioned ethnography is a complex process that needs application of intellectual abilities. This applies to political ethnography; one analyzing political subjects require one to possess high levels of intellectual abilities since the subjects are always learned.

Works Cited

Westbrook, David A. Navigators of the contemporary: Why ethnography matters. University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary men. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Mintz, Jerome R. The anarchists of casas viejas. Indiana University Press, 1982.

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