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What is an Ethnography?

"An ethnography is a first-hand descriptive work of a particular culture or ethnic group based on the immersion and participation of the anthropologist in the culture and daily life of the people who are the subject of study."

They are based on participant observation.


Where are Ethnographies in the Library?

  • The word "ethnography" is not a Library of Congress Subject Heading or Classification (call number). There is not section of Bizzell Memorial Library devoted to ethnographies. Instead, they will be found throughout the library, based on the call number (classification) of the ethnic group or geographic area of your particular subject.
  • You must search Discover Local Catalog to find ethnographies.

Searching Ethnographies in the Catalog

  • Finding ethnographies can be difficult. Most ethnographies do not have the word "ethnography" as part of their titles. A keyword search of an ethnic group will retrieve books about that group but not necessarily ethnographies.
  • Ethnographies usually fall under the subject heading Social Life and Customs. Try searching the catalog using the phrase social life and customs and the name of an ethnic group. Example: Yoruba social life and custom
  • It is important to note that not all titles under this subject heading are ethnographies. Read the methodology section of books to determine if they are ethnographies.
  • If you find a title and are unsure if it is an ethnography, it might be helpful to look for a book review of the title. Most reviewers will indicate if a work is an ethnography.
  • Some ethnographies might focus on narrower topics such as kinship, religion, rites and ceremonies. Conducting a catalog search with the name of the ethnic group and one of these keywords may be helpful. (For example, yoruba rites.) 
  • Search examples: Combine the name of the ethnic group with keywords. Using the asterisk (*) to search for variations of a word: