Ethnographically Informed Community

and Cultural Assessment Research Systems

(The EICCARS)

EICCARS Community Data Bases

Congress Heights/Neighborhood Cluster 39, Washington, DC

  

© 2009.  Please do not duplicate or cite without permission from Tony L. Whitehead, PhD., CuSAG Director.  To Contact: twhitehe@anth.umd.edu, or 301-405-1419.

 

Introduction to the Ethnographically Informed Community and Cultural Assessment Research Systems

The Ethnographically Informed Community & Cultural Assessments Research Systems (the EICCARS) is one of four program subsystems of the Cultural Ecology of Health and Change (the CEHC), an anthropologically informed applied research and technical assistance system that focuses on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of communities and other “cultural systems”.  Within the EICCARS the study of cultural system not only to local communities, but also any group or social system in which its members tend to share preferences for particular behaviors, ideas, and social relationships, including organizations and institutions, ethnic groups, household and family, friend and kin(ship) networks and systems,  and even total societies. The EICCARS is a multi-method research system that  has emerged during CuSAG’s founding director, Dr. Tony Whitehead’s nearly 40 year career as a community health anthropologist. Included in CuSAG’s toolkit of applied ethnographic methods are the following:

  1. Selection of EICCARS Topic to be Studied

  2. Selection of cultural system (e.g., community, organizations, and household, family, and kinship systems, etc.), social settings (e.g., meetings, street corners, night clubs), or events/activities (festive occasions, reunions, etc.) to be studied.

  3. Selection of Community Profiles (economic, demographic, educational, etc), or other units of analysis to be studied.

  4. Development of an EICCARS Research Design.

  5. Secondary Data Analysis including website and other databases, project reports and other types of documents, archival data, and more popular data sources such fiction and non-fiction print texts (e.g. newspapers, books, blogs and other electronic sources), existing maps and other formats showing the spatial distribution of objects within a cultural or community system, as well as existing audio-visual records.

  6. A Variety of Observation and Participant Observation Methods customized for the study of different community/cultural systems, including descriptive “windshield” and “walking tours,” and participation in various study community/cultural based activities and events.

  7. A Variety of Interview Methods, both individual (informal, conversational, ethno-semantic/domain analysis, semi-structured, “Key Community/Cultural Experts,” structured and survey), and group (including focus groups);

  8. The Use of Mapping Technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems, to study the spatial distributions of various objects of interest within community/cultural systems, and the perceptions of the members of those systems regarding such distributions.

  9. The Use of Audio (Taping) and Visual (Photography, film, etc) Methods for recording and eliciting community/cultural systems data.

  10. Strategies for training members of the target or client cultural systems (communities, organizations, etc) in EICCARS methods so that they can carry out EICCARS studies to inform their own or their systems’ future project ideas.

  11. Methods of Team Approaches in Ethnography including technically trained persons from outside of the system that is the focus of research (Cultural Outsiders) and members of that system (Cultural Insiders);

  12. Computerized Data Storage and Retrieval Systems;

  13. Methods for the Interpretation and Analysis of EICCARS data sets, including integrated data analysis, and the development of Rich Ethnographic Case Studies;

  14. Methods for the Development of Data Collection/Recording Instruments and Other Materials in the use of all the methods outlined above.

 

In the EICCARS, the data collected on local communities are organized and stored in sixteendata based profiles, the names of those profiles are:

  1. A GEOGRAPHIC PROFILE (an exact mapping of where that community is located)

  2. A DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE (sex, age, ethnic, and other demographic characteristics); 

  3. An ECONOMIC PROFILE (employment opportunities, types of employment, income levels, unemployment, underemployment, etc.);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. An EDUCATION PROFILE (schools, and other formal educational resources, as well as informal ones, adult education and literacy levels, school dropout rates, etc);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A HOUSING and HUMAN ECOLOGY PROFILE (the availability and condition of housing, presence of trash, litter, and so on);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. AHEALTH PROFILE (data on leading causes of morbidity and mortality within the community, the availability and accessibility of hospitals, doctors, and other health providers, how health care paid for, etc.);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A POLITICAL PROFILE (community leaders, and systems of selecting leaders, systems of public decision making, articulation to larger political system, etc);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A CRIME, ADJUDICATION, and PUBLIC SAFETY PROFILE (types and levels of crime, how crime and conflict addressed, presence of police, fire protection, and other forms of public safety);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A HUMAN RESOURCES/ASSETS, ORGANIZATIONS, and ACTION PROFILE (organizations, agencies groups, and individuals involved in actions to solve problems and meet various human needs);  

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A PLAY, RECREATION and LEISURE PROFILE (ways that community members meet needs of play, recreation, and leisure);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A TECHNOLOGY, INFRASTRUCTURE, and NATURAL RESOURCE PROFILE (communication and other technology, transportation availability and use);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. An IDEATIONAL PROFILE (systems of knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, values, cosmology, and religion). 

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. An EXPRESSIVE CULTURE PROFILE (religion, cosmology, music, art, language, literature, etc);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A MATERIAL CULTURE PROFILE (architecture, material development, and other human alterations in the natural environment or vistas);

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A CULTURE REPRODUCTION PROFILE (ways that social and group rules and routines are produced and reproduced and integrated within the cognitive structures of community residents).

    1. Needs/Challenges/Risks

    2. Assets/Resources

  1. A HISTORICAL PROFILE (a brief description of the community's history, trends in the data found in other profiles, and significant historical events and processes).


 

Following the Geographic Profile, the data collected and organized into each remaining profile is collected and organized into two major categories: (1) The Human Needs, Challenges, and Risks in Meeting the Needs of the Members/Residents of the targeted Community; and(2) The Community's Assets or Resources That are Available to Meet the Needs of its Members/Residents. Data bases such as the present one is referred to as running data bases because data is continually added and updated. The present Running Data Base includes the present state of data that CuSAG, and students who have taken CuSAG supported courses in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park.


 

One of the CuSAG Special Working Papers is titled: “The Formation of the U.S. Racialized Urban Ghetto” (Whitehead 2001) in which Whitehead describes as neighborhoods found in major US metropolitan urban areas that has most, if not all of the following characteristics:

 

  • Racialized Urban Ghettoes (RUGs) are US Urban communities that are predominantly populated by African Americans.

  • The evolution of RUGs are due to policies and practices based on race and racism.

  • RUGs have high population density.

  • RUGs have low male to female population ratio in the age group, 15-45.

  • RUGs have high rates of single female headed households.

  • Since the early 1970s, RUGs have had continuing increases in unemployment and decline in employment opportunities.

  • Since the early 1970s, RUGs have had an exodus of higher SES residents.

  • RUGs have high rates of concentrated and extreme poverty.

  • RUGs have low literacy and educational levels.

  • RUG residents have difficulties in trying to take advantage of employment opportunities in nearby Suburbs and Edge Cities.

  • RUGs have high mortality rates from all leading killer diseases from infant mortality rates, to AIDS and violence mortality rates among adolescent and adults, to the death of adults and seniors from such chronic conditions as heart disease, cancers, diabetes, etc.

  • RUGs have continued environmental deterioration since the late 1960s, although in the mid 1990s, many RUGs began to experience increasing revitalization which is defined in some quarters as a process of “gentrification,” or the replacement of long term low income residents that were predominantly black, with higher income residents, mostly white .

  • RUG residents experience high levels of social and cultural isolation.

  • RUGs have experienced recent in migration of other ethnic groups and increased competition for inadequate employment opportunities.

  • RUGs have had continual increases in the rates of violent crime, drug abuse & trafficking, and incarceration during period, 1985 and 1995, that Whitehead has referred to as the “Crack Decade.” Since 2002, many RUGs began to experience high rates of returned inmates, further affecting the negative social, economic, environmental, health, and cultural characteristics of these communities.


 

This is useful in considering that the Congress Heights area population is comprised primarily of low-income African Americans (2000 Census figures indicate about 97% Black or African American), and the level of services provided to the community is greatly reduced due in part to a lower tax base. As the following data indicate, there are significant challenges faced by members of the community, but also “grass roots” resources that serve to improve the chances of successful reentry.


 

A. The Congress Heights/NC 39 Geographical Profile

Congress Heights is located in Southeast Washington, DC in Ward 8, Neighborhood Cluster 39 (Congress Heights, Bellevue, Washington Highlands). The boundaries of the Congress Heights neighborhood are defined as Mississippi Ave SE to the southeast, Wheeler Rd SE to the east, Alabama Ave SE to the north, and Martin Luther King, Jr Ave and South Capitol St to the northwest1. The US Census Bureau tabulation areas listed below defines statistical area for Neighborhood Cluster 39 (As utilized in the context of neighborhood ethnographies performed by CuSAG).

 

Congress Heights:

  • Census Tract 73.02, 98.03, 98.04

  • Census Tract 73.04

    • Block Group 1

      • Blocks 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007

    • Block Groups 2, 3

Bellevue:

  • Census Tract 98.06

    • Block Group 2

      • Blocks 2005, 2006

    • Block Group 3

  • Census Tract 98.07

    • Block Group 1

      • Blocks 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012

    • Block Group 3

      • Blocks 3000, 3004, 3005, 3006, 3007, 3008, 3009

  • Census Tract 98.08

    • Block Group 4

      • Blocks 4002, 4003, 4004, 4005, 4006

Washington Highlands

  • Census Tract 97.00

    • Block Group 1

      • Blocks 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007

    • Block Group 2

  • Census Tract 98.01

    • Block Group 1

      • Blocks 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1007

  • Census Tract 98.02

  • Census Tract 98.06

    • Block Group 1

    • Block Group 2

      • Blocks 2000, 2001, 2002A, 2002B, 2003, 2004


 

Map 1: Congress Heights and NC 39

 

 



 

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Jump to other profiles:

 

GEOGRAPHIC PROFILE

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE

ECONOMIC PROFILE

EDUCATION PROFILE

HOUSING and HUMAN ECOLOGY PROFILE

HEALTH PROFILE

POLITICAL PROFILE

CRIME, ADJUDICATION, and PUBLIC SAFETY PROFILE

HUMAN RESOURCES/ASSETS, ORGANIZATIONS, and ACTION PROFILE

PLAY, RECREATION and LEISURE PROFILE

TECHNOLOGY, INFRASTRUCTURE, and NATURAL RESOURCE PROFILE

PLAY, RECREATION and LEISURE PROFILE

EXPRESSIVE CULTURE PROFILE

MATERIAL CULTURE PROFILE

CULTURE REPRODUCTION PROFILE

HISTORICAL PROFILE