+Essay #1: Making the Familiar Strange
Throughout this book we will be exploring how anthropology’s holistic, cross-cultural, and comparative approach can help us think more deeply about other people and live more consciously in our global world. As humans, we take for granted many things about our lives and how the world works, whether it is our notions of race or the cheap cost of a chocolate or a can of Coke. But anthropologists often describe how doing fieldwork can make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.
Preparation: Review Guest’s Example
For this essay, you will be asked to conduct an anthropological analysis of a familiar object. Your book provides a great example on page 30: take a can of Coke, for instance. Can you make this most familiar cultural object unfamiliar? What would an anthropologist want to know about that can of Coke? What can you learn about yourself, your culture, or globalization in general from that can of Coke? How does the social life of a can of Coke intersect with the lives of people who produce it? To conduct an anthropological analysis – that is, focusing on the people behind the product – you could research answers to the following questions:
1. What’s in it? Where in the world did the ingredients come from?
2. What can you learn about the workers who produced it? What is their life like?
3. What are some specific examples of places where Coke has had an impact on the local communities where it is produced? How has it affected these communities?
4. You may want to explore one specific case study by researching Plachimada, India, and Coke. What is the relationship of the people in Plachimada to a can of Coke? Do they drink it? Do they work in the factory that makes it? How much do they earn? How much has the Coca-Cola factory changed their lives? Has it affected people in the community differently based on age, gender, or class? What actions did the people of Plachimada take to protest problems caused by the factory? Were they successful?
5. What is the impact of the can of Coke on the community where it is consumed? What are the health impacts? The environmental impacts? Where does the waste end up — landfills, the ocean, recycled, repurposed?
6. What do you pay for a twelve-ounce can? What are the real social costs of producing a can of Coke – in terms of water, power systems, sewage treatment, pollution, garbage disposal, and roads for transportation? Who pays for them?
7. What is the environmental impact of making a can of Coke, considering what it takes to grow and process ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup and the quantity of water required to produce the finished product?
For your essay, you will follow the author’s example of making a can of Coke unfamiliar. You have a choice: if you like the structure of Guest’s example, you can focus on Coke and answer the questions detailed above, or you can choose a different product made by a specific company. Examples include Dole bananas, Nike tennis shoes, and Levi’s blue jeans. Once you choose your product, the first step is to do some preliminary library research to make sure you can find scholarly sources to support your writing. Use the links and guides provided on our course website to get started. You are required to have at least two scholarly sources for this paper, and they must be properly cited in your paper. See the Chicago Style Quick Guide on HuskyCT for guidance. Submit your choice of topic and citations for two scholarly sources for approval to your instructor.
Example of a Topic and Sources submission (note: you may not use these sources if you choose this topic):
Topic: Starbucks coffee
Macdonald, Kate. May 19, 2007. “Globalising Justice within Coffee Supply Chains? Fair Trade, Starbucks and the Transformation of Supply Chain Governance.” Third World Quarterly 28(4): 793–812. doi: 10.1080/01436590701336663.
Smith, Michael. May 13, 1996. “The Empire Filters Back: consumption, production, and the politics of Starbucks coffee.” Urban Geography and Cultural Studies 17(6): 502–525. doi: 10.2747/0272-36220.127.116.112.
Write a critical research paper on Coke or a product of your choice, based on similar questions detailed above, that is 5 full pages of text (minimum), plus Works Cited page. You will need at least two scholarly sources, properly cited in the text (author-date style) and works cited page.
Important Resources for Writing Your Draft:
Use Brown pp. 93-112 as a guide: you will need a thesis, a strong introduction, a body section in which you explain your evidence and cite sources, and a conclusion. (Brown goes into more depth than you will need for a short paper; you do not need a counterargument.)
See also the brief guidelines for writing your draft and thesis tips posted in your Writing Assignments folder.
You will also want to read the writing samples on our course website and review the grading rubric.
After you’ve written your draft, write a one-page cover letter addressed to your peer reviewer.
Please address the following:
● What is the strongest part of my essay?
● What is the weakest part of my essay?
● If I had more time, I would do more research on ________________.
● What I especially need help with is: __________________.
Read your reviewer’s comments carefully. Based on the Writer’s Checklist and written feedback, revise your paper. You should also refer to Brown chapter 6, “Editing for Style” to improve your writing. Make sure you use at least two scholarly sources in your paper. Your final draft should be 7 full pages of text, plus a Works Cited page. For more information on A Can of Coke visit this: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/economics-business-and-labor/businesses-and-occupations/coca-cola-company
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