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Anthropology 1120 Assignment #2:  Applying an Anthropological Perspective to Media Narratives


How does it work?


In Module 2 of this course, we have begun to examine worldviews and how anthropologists argue that nation-states and nationalism are one form of ‘imagined community’ (Anderson 2006) in which human groups organize, relate to each other and construct identities about themselves and others.  In this exercise you will apply anthropological insights on nation-states and nationalism to one media narrative (see list below).


For this exercise you must write a 3-4 page essay analyzing a media narrative listed below and its relationship to nationalism from an anthropological perspective.  Your goal as an anthropologist is to ascertain what values and beliefs about American national culture and/or identity are being communicated in the media narrative and how. Drawing on newspaper stories, your essay must discuss the messages that American media conveys about:

  1. What American national culture and/or identity looks like or should look like
  2. How it is conveyed (through what words, phrases or sentences)
  3. Who is included/excluded in these narratives.  You should complete the required readings for weeks 9, 10, and 11 prior to beginning this assignment.


Media Narrative Link:

“What 4 types of American nationalism can tell us about Trump voters” (by Bart Bonikowski and Paul DiMaggio, Washington Post, February 6, 2017)


What should you learn from this assignment?

·      The point of the exercise is to give you practice in applying anthropological concepts discussed in lectures and readings to ‘real world’ issues and debates found in everyday contexts such as popular media. 

·      This exercise will also help you develop skills in finding and evaluating specific information in research data for a specific purpose

·      The mark assigned to this exercise reflects your ability to connect content from the newspaper article to anthropological concepts and arguments about nation-states and nationalism discussed in lectures and readings. The mark also takes into account your ability to get to the point quickly


How to complete the assignment


Your essay should follow proper essay format (including an introductory and concluding paragraph) and address the following topics/questions:


1)    A brief summary of the media article: What is the main issue or topic being discussed (10-15% of overall content)


2)    What are the words, phrases or sentences used in the article that connect it to questions of nationalism, national culture and/or national identity (10-15% of overall content)?


3)    Taking these words, phrases or sentences together, what overall message or messages are being conveyed about American national identity and culture in these news articles? What messages are being conveyed about the USA as a nation-state? What kinds of stories are Americans telling themselves about themselves and others in this news article (25-30% of overall content)?


4)    How do these messages relate what we have read about nationalism and the nation-state in lectures and readings (It is highly recommended that you complete the required readings for the weeks 9, 10, and 11 in order to answer this question)(30-40% of overall content).


Formatting Instructions


·           Required Information on the first page: Your full name, student number, course code (ANTH 1120 A, B or C), Name of your Tutorial Assistant, Time and Day of your tutorial. You should NOT produce a separate title page and can put all of this information at the top of the first page of text.


·             Technical Details: 12-point font, Times or Arial preferred, 2.5cm or 1inch margins all round, double-spaced, with page numbers, and clear paragraphing.


·               Citations: Chicago Manual of Style (Author-Date system)


·      Title and References are required for this assignment


Tips on what to do and what not to do


1)             Do not spend the majority of the essay summarizing the article

2)             Do not spend the majority of the essay reproducing every word and phrase that refers to a nation or nationalism. Your job is to highlight what you think are the key words and phrases and to summarize the dominant or primary message(s) that are conveyed

3)             You are not being asked to provide your opinion on whether or not this is an ‘accurate’ depiction of American culture and identity.  Your job is to explain how a particular world-view is being produced, and what it is saying about that group of people.                





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4)             You may quote or briefly summarize points from required readings in order to illustrate your point. Extensive quotations or analyses from outside sources are not required.

Originally posted 2017-11-13 22:25:13.



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