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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service


Appendix II: Professional Qualifications: Ethnography

When seeking assistance in the identification, evaluation, and management of traditional cultural properties, agencies should normally seek out specialists with ethnographic research training, typically including, but not necessarily limited to:

I. Language skills: it is usually extremely important to talk in their own language with those who may ascribe value to traditional cultural properties. While ethnographic fieldwork can be done through interpreters, ability in the local language is always preferable.

II. Interview skills, for example:

* The ability to approach a potential informant in his or her own cultural environment, explain and if necessary defend one's research, conduct an interview and minimize disruption, elicit required information, and disengage from the interview in an appropriate manner so that further interviews are welcome; and

* The ability to create and conduct those types of interviews that are appropriate to the study being carried out, ensuring that the questions asked are meaningful to those being interviewed, and that answers are correctly understood through the use of such techniques as translating and back-translating. Types of interviews normally carried out by ethnographers, one or more of which may be appropriate during evaluation and documentation of a traditional cultural property, include:

  • semi-structured interview on a broad topic;

  • semi-structured interview on a narrow topic;

  • structured interview on a well defined specific topic; open ended life history/life cycle interview; and

  • genealogical interview.

III. Skill in making and accurately recording direct observations of human behavior, typically including:

* The ability to observe and record individual and group behavior in such a way as to discern meaningful patterns; and

* The ability to observe and record the physical environment in which behavior takes place, via photography, mapmaking, and written description.

IV. Skill in recording, coding, and retrieving pertinent data derived from analysis of textural materials, archives, direct observation, and interviews.

Proficiency in such skills is usually obtained through graduate and post-graduate training and supervised experience in cultural anthropology and related disciplines, such as folklore/ folklife.

Created September 12, 1995

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