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The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Chase Fellow awardee Alexander Golden speaks on his research

Alexander+Golden+24+stands+at+Machu+Picchu+as+part+of+his+ethnographic+study+on+Peru.+His+research+is+part+of+the+Chase+Junior+Fellowship+he+was+awarded.+Courtesy+of+Alexander+Golden
Alexander Golden ’24 stands at Machu Picchu as part of his ethnographic study on Peru. His research is part of the Chase Junior Fellowship he was awarded. Courtesy of Alexander Golden

In the world of academic research, few endeavors are as challenging as ethnographic studies. Alexander Golden ‘24 recently embarked on a journey to Peru after being awarded the Chase Junior Fellowship. His mission was to better understand the complexities of Peru’s political turmoil through the lens of ethnographic research.

Golden’s project was an ambitious blend of cultural immersion and historical analysis.

“The goal was always to do an ethnographic research study in Peru, but I didn’t have a specific topic in mind initially. I wanted to understand how Peruvians felt about their political turmoil and get a sense of the country’s direction,” Golden said.

Golden’s interest in Peru was not just academic. It also stemmed from deep personal connections that influenced his research focus.

“The inspiration for focusing on Peru came from my grandfather, who was born there,” he said. “The political turmoil affected him deeply, and I wanted to connect with my roots and better understand that part of my heritage.”

The meat of Golden’s study was having simple interactions with ordinary Peruvian people.

“I had conversations with many locals, including a Peruvian taxi driver who blamed the country’s problems on Venezuelans,” he said. “But then, a conversation with a Venezuelan taxi driver offered a different perspective, highlighting the discrimination they face.”

These experiences underscored the complexity of the issues at hand and the importance of considering multiple viewpoints.

“This experience was a reminder to not take any single opinion as the entire truth,” Golden said. “In ethnographic studies, it’s crucial to piece together different perspectives to understand the larger picture.”

Beyond the immediate personal impact of his research, Golden’s work has garnered recognition in the most prestigious of academic circles available to high school students.

“My earlier work on colonial Spain’s laws and the protection of indigenous people was published in The Concord Review and won the Emerson Prize,” he said. “It really set me up for this project.”

Golden’s advice to students thinking about doing a junior fellowship in the future is simple: “Just do it. Pursue your passion. You don’t need a completely clear-cut idea from the start. Leave some room for exploration,”

He also believes that picking a topic you’re truly passionate about is the key to having a fun and educational experience.

“When you get to pursue something that you’re really passionate about, you can have a lot of fun while learning,” Golden said. “And that’s the best thing possible.”

Indeed, Golden wants to continue with ethnographic studies in the future.

“I definitely want to keep doing this in college, maybe even publish more research or write a book,” Golden said. “My experiences have shown me the value of combining ethnographic and historical approaches.”

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About the Contributor
Wilson Wendt, Writer