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ANTH 102 Cultural Anthropology

Finding Ethnographies

To find a book-length ethnography on a particular ethnic group:

1. Go to the Online Catalog. Use the Keyword Anywhere search for single terms or phrases and for combining terms with "and". Use the Keyword Anywhere (and, or not) search when combining terms with "or".

2. If possible, identify the name for the ethnic group used as a subject heading in the Online Catalog.

                     !kung (african people)   
                     navajo indians

3. Search by the name of the ethnic group. Consider ethnonyms (alternative names) and/or variant spellings. Use the subject heading name, if known. Truncate for singular and plural terms, if appropriate.

                     navajo or navaho or dine or dene
                     nava? or dine or dene
                     "!kung bushmen" or "!kung african people"

4. Add one or more of the following terms or phrases to your search statement:

                     social life  (from subject heading: social life and customs)
                     ethnograph? (to cover both "ethnography" and "ethnographic")

Some examples of keyword search statements:

  • nava?o people
  • (nava?o or dine) and "social life and customs"
  • tuareg? and ("social life" or ethnology)
  • nuer? and ("social life" or ethnology or ethnograph?)

You will probably need to actually look at a book to make sure it is an ethnography. Once you have identified the call number of an ethnography for a particular group, you will be able to browse other ethnographies shelfed nearby. Remember that many books are now being purchased as ebooks and are only available electronically. If you find an ebook, you will need to browse it online to make sure it is an appropriate ethnography.

Google Books

Since Google Books will search the full text, you can try searching with your topic keywords (e.g., aids, indigenous medicine) and add either ethnography or ethnographic study to pick up these terms from the book description, introduction, or within the text. You will need to review the results carefully to confirm that the book is an ethnography.


Try a similar search strategy in Smartsearch, which will search the full text of many electronic books from the library's catalog.  After your initial search, limit the results on the left side, under "Refine your search" to items in the library catalog.  You will need to review the results carefully.  


Search for book reviews of ethnographic monographs in this database by typing in your topic keywords and ethnograph* (e.g., aids and ethnograph*) to be searched in the full text.  Then choose to narrow the search by Item Type to Reviews and if desired, also to Anthropology journals.  You can then scan the resulting book reviews to identify relevant ethnographies on your topic, but you will need to read through the review carefully to determine if the book is based on ethnographic research.

Anthropology Plus

The term "Ethnography" is a subject heading in the database Anthropology Plus, so you can use it in combination with your cultural group or other topic keywords to identify ethnographies. Since the Ethnography subject heading will retrieve ethnographic articles and book chapters, you will need to review your results in order to select the appropriate source, or narrow the results by selecting the Source Types on the left tool bar.  Anthropology Plus does not include individual, book-length ethnographies.

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