Sparking Student Scholarship Through Urban Ethnography
Each May the students in my course, “The Peopling of New York,” gather in Chatham Square in the heart of Chinatown for their final exam—a 2-h student-led walking tour of East Broadway, the vibrant 10-block thoroughfare that has provided the matrix for our semester-long exploration of immigration and New York City. Shoppers, job seekers, cooks, and waiters bustle by as my students’ research teams review their presentations before getting started. My mind returns to the cold January afternoon at the very beginning of the semester when I led the walking tour for these then wide-eyed and worried first-year undergraduates. What an incredible educational adventure we have been on together over 4 months as students have used anthropological fieldwork techniques to uncover the rich history and dynamic contemporary life of this immigrant community.
KeywordsYork City Immigrant History Restaurant Worker Baruch College Immigrant Organization
Thanks to my former dean, Myrna Chase, for inviting me to Baruch to teach this course; Macaulay Honors College staff and faculty; and the students in my Peopling of New York seminars. Also, particular thanks go to Lynn Horridge, my technology fellow and sounding board, as I reinvented this course in the spring of 2007.
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