Official “Summer Summary”

Since I want to eventually enter the field of urban planning, I chose my research project in an effort to intertwine city planning with the concepts of anthropology.  Thus I decided to study how an abstract concept like human culture affects the concrete, bureaucratic practice of zoning.  I chose the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to be my Petri dish city of examination and my questions pertained to the past, present, and future.  Specifically, how did Bethlehem develop its zoning layout through time, how do residents perceive, affect, or interact with the current zoning, and how would residents change the zoning of the city?

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On Analysis and Being Scared

I just met with my Thesis Director for the first time since returning to school and he quelled some of my fears related to analysis.  He reassured me that feeling frightened bodes well.  If the data seems vast and difficult to navigate then this signifies that one has most likely amassed enough data to create a substantive report.  Even though it felt nice to hear these warm words, the task before me still seems daunting because of its extraordinary nature.

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Data in the Raw

With every week my research gains momentum.   I’ve quickly learned the importance of building rapport with the subjects of the study in anthropological research.  Of course, my study differs from the kind of research performed in the gospels of anthropology (Coming of Age in Samoa, etc.).  I study not an isolated, foreign region, but a connected (“within an hour and half  of both New York and Philadelphia!” “a nexus of the Eastern seaboard!” are statements often proclaimed to me), familiar one.  Yet still I’ve found that that traditional ethnographic methods are essential.  In the case of my study, rapport may translate to a term more rampant in the current American lexicon: networking.  While rapport indicates the process of establishing a relationship, networking denotes both the formation and utilization of a relationship.  I’ve found both of these terms apply.  As I perform interviews I create a foundation of trust and interest in my research.  The individuals I form connections with pass along information on my research to others and give me names and numbers with generous assurances to “please, please” use their name when calling so-and-so.  This is the way I’ve moved from solely interviewing Bethlehem residents to interviewing community leaders, organizers, and even city officials.

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Placing a zoning map on my wall, and other accomplishments

As of today, I feel accomplished.  As of two days ago, I did not.  I have learned this vacillation in fulfillment characterizes the research process.  Some days I go to bed feeling as though I have accomplished nothing, despite the fact that I have trekked across the city and buried my nose in pages detailing the original Moravian settlement at Bethlehem from morning until evening.

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The Bethlehem Study

Hi.  My name is Elena Carey and I’m a rising senior at the College.  This summer I intend to study how zoning in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania helps create different meanings and identities in distinct areas of the city.

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