Brainstorming

Aside from my general tendency to be indecisive when it comes to open ended assignments, I know choosing a topic to do fieldwork research on in China will be particularly challenging.  One of the many reasons I believe this is that there is so much I don’t know about Chinese culture.  While this opens me to a breadth of possibilities, and an endless amount of learning opportunities, it also makes it difficult for me to hone in on just one area of Chinese culture to focus on.  I am excited to see how different China is, as I imagine it will be somewhat of a culture shock; I know that I will want to take in all Beijing has to offer.

 

Here are some topics that I am considering at this point:

1.) Last semester, I took a class called Feminist Theory.  I reluctantly enrolled in this class, really not sure at all what to expect.  I admit that the two reasons holding me back from dropping the course before I even went to the first class was that it was: 1.) a GER 7  and 2.) I had heard great things about the professor.  To my surprise, it was one of the more rewarding courses I have taken at William and Mary.  The professor did far more than teach theory, as she actually changed the way that I think; I am much more aware about things that I had never previously taken note of.  Anyways, something I am considering as an ethnographic research topic are gender roles in china.  I’d like to observe the subtleties in different gender interactions, perhaps in a casual setting like a restaurant, or coffee shop.  Do men pay the food bill?  Do waiters/waitresses hand the menus to women first?  Is it common for men to hold doors open for women?

2.)  Another topic I feel could be interesting to study is basic means of communication, such as body language and basic greeting gestures. Perhaps the field for this topic could be a local food market.  How do Chinese people interact with people they are very friendly with?  Do they hug?  Shake hands?  How do they acknowledge people they are less familiar with, or perhaps people they don’t know at all?  Do the people in Beijing maintain a greater sense of personal space when talking to people? I believe observing these slight nuances in communication, and how they compare to Americans’ communication, could provide some really interesting conclusions for my ethnographic fieldwork project.