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MAS 275: Research Methodologies

Time: Saturday 10:30-3:00
Location: Clark 238 / King Library Cultural Heritage Center

Description

Generally speaking, the goal of all seminars on research procedures entails an objective of discovery. Through description, one seeks to render understandable the characteristics, causes, and consequences of social phenomena and reality, of the forms they assume, and of the variations they display. Few would quibble with this goal of discovery, description, and explanation, yet there has long been a considerable and often heated debate concerning the matter of how best to study or get at the essence of various social phenomena and realities. This is particularly true when departing from an interdisciplinary field such as Chicana and Chicano Studies. Much of our general understanding of research methods assumes that the theoretical and practical aspects of research and its methodologies are devoid of socially imposed meaning. Often learning “methods” is viewed as an investigatory approach which explicitly, or not, adopts a stance of methodological puritanism. An unspoken epistemological wedge is driven between the social conditions that shape thinkers (like everything else in society), information and knowledge. These assumptions underlie the ideological beliefs that “objectivity” in academia can and do actually guide all endeavors at knowledge. Perhaps field such as Chicana and Chicano Studies encounter these dilemmas more readily within their own development as well as through the lens of extant observers. The general aim of this seminar is to sharpen our methodological imagination and skills by first exploring the taken-for granted assumptions and legacies of colonial roots of knowledge in general and methodological guidelines specifically. Substantively the course draws upon the phenomenon of research methods as these processes of knowledge yield (reproduce/challenge) taken-for granted ways of knowing and interpreting. An application of these efforts will be found in the production (yours) of various research tools-primarily to demonstrate mastery of bureaucratic demands but also to explore values and strengths in the approaches used to gather and present evidence in academia. We will evaluate a diverse set of published scholarly findings for their methodological applications. Most of these research cases focus on Chicana/o and Latina/o groups within the United States. However, we will also draw from various “classical” sources of field research, ethnography, and methodological examples focusing on diverse groups both within and outside the United States. We will use CANVAS for our course materials and communication.

Course Dates

Course Dates: Saturdays January 25--Introduction and Orientation on Class Resources February 1, 15 March 8, 15 April 5, 19 May 3, 10

Required Readings

Required Books: Becker, Howard S. Writing for Social Sciences. Chicago, IL: U of Chicago PRess. 1986. ISBN: 0-226-04108-5. Hale, Charles R. Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship. Berkeley, CA: UC Press. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-520-09861-9. Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes. New York, NY: Routledge. 2008. ISBN: 0-415-06095-8. We will also have various journal articles, research guides, and book chapters available in electronic format.