Ethnographies are first-hand accounts of the daily life of a community or society. They may cover a particular people, geographical area, or social group. Ethnographies are published in books, essays in edited collections, journal articles and thesis or dissertations. Some anthropologists use other media such as pictures or films to create ethnographies.
Criteria for ethnographies in anthropology
Most ethnographies are written by anthropologists. Some may be written by teachers, missionaries, explorers, travelers, geologists, or others who live temporarily with that culture, but these may not always satisfy anthropological criteria for ethnographic studies. Check with your professor or teaching assistant to be sure.
- Typical criteria for ethnographies:
- focused on a specific culture, community, or society
- the author lives in the field with the cultural group
- presents an account based mainly on first-hand experience
- offers extensive cultural description based on rigorous research methods and data collection techniques
- addresses contemporary as well as traditional cultures
Finding ethnographies through Library search
- Search by keyword: e.g. Herero AND ethnog*
- Search by subject option for a particular country using "ethnology": e.g. Ethnology AND Namibia
- Search by subject option for a particular group using "social life and customs": e.g. Inuit Social life AND customs
Consider these ethnographic book series:
- Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology
Finding ethnographies through databases
- Anthropology databases
For both databases, use the Descriptor term 'ethnography' then add the other subject terms describing your topic.
- Other databases covering anthropology
- Database for older ethnographies
- eHRAF World Cultures: (electronic Human Relations Area Files) World Cultures database contains the texts of ethnographies from all cultures of the world on a comprehensive range of topics.
To find an ethnography on a specific topic, on the main screen, click Browse, then the Subjects tab. To search by major category, select the Major Subjects tab. If you know the subject by its proper name, you may select from the A-Z Index.
Finding ethnographies through biographies of anthropologists
- Read about anthropologists and discover their ethnographic works. Here are a few titles to start with:
- The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology [electronic resource] Barnard, Alan ; Spencer, Jonathan; Alan Barnard ; Jonathan Spencer ; Spencer, Jonathan ; Barnard, Alan
The Routledge dictionary of anthropologists [electronic resource] / Gérald Gaillard ; translated by Peter James Bowman.
- Some anthropologists use film to conduct ethnographic research. The following books provide some background on this area of cultural anthropology. They will also provide names of visual anthropologists including some of the films they have produced.
- Ethnographic film [electronic resource] / by Karl G. Heider.
- Troubled vision: Interrogating the visual protocols of 20 th century ethnographic literary and cinematic travelogues [electronic resource] Kirk, Faith 2015
- Visualizing anthropology [electronic resource] Grimshaw, Anna ; Grimshaw, Anna ; Ravetz, Amanda 2005
- Search for ethnographic films in these databases: