I want you to find something extremely familiar to you and deconstruct it until it is strange (Please read the Nacirema article, I have uploaded below). The article does this with many objects. You only have to do it with one. I want you to see the item you choose as something else, not from another point of view, but AS SOMETHING ELSE. For example, people in Avila, Ecuador realize that things are different to jaguars than they are to humans. To a human, blood is a warning sign. To a jaguar, blood is liquor. Find an object that you rarely give a second thought—an object that is normal to you—and see what else it is.
As a baby-step towards this abstract piece of creative writing you will be doing as the final paper (which counts as your final exam), create a structured brainstorm.
Turn in a list of 10 objects that are very common in your universe—like the Nike Air Jordan sneaker, a bottle of your favorite nail polish, your mother’s jade-inlayed chop sticks, or a shaker of Tajin. Choose one of these objects and write about it non-stop for 2 minutes. Stop writing at exactly two minutes and listen to your intuition. As you listen, think about the following questions (don’t write the answers).
Keep repeating the 2-minute quick-write activity with different objects until you find an object for which you can answer YES to at least 4 of those questions. Then, declare what that object is and write 100 words about why you chose it. This is the object around which your final paper will revolve.
Now, you might be thinking: “Wait, I thought anthropology was the study of humans. Here he wants us to write about objects?” Yes. Yes I do. Because in writing about an object you will realize that the object is a cultural construct. Where there is culture, there are humans. By making you write about an object, I am making you write more about humans than if I made you write about humans.
To recap: for this brainstorm assignment, you will turn in your 10-word brainstorm, as many 2-minute quick-writes as you needed to do (at least 1), and the 100 word explanation of which object you chose and why.