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Anthropology Research Guide: Cultural Anthropology

Tips for Finding Ethnographies

Remember, an ethnography describes of a single group, while an ethnology compares multiple cultures. Search for:

  • Ethnography and Tasmania get a detailed study in Tasmania, or
  • Ethnology and Dogon        compare Dogon peoples with other peoples

But anthropological books are not always labeled as such. For American tribes, search [group name] + Indian:

Quechua Indians or Yanomamo Indians

For African, European or Asian tribes use [group name] + [continent] + People:

Dogon African People or Tamil Indic People

If there are multiple spellings, search both versions: 

Tuareg then try again with Taureg, or Maasai then Masai.

Use wildcards (*) to search for multiple words at once:

  • Ethnog* to find records on ethnographic, ethnographical, ethnographers, and ethnography.
  • Ethnol* to find records on ethnology, ethnological, etc.

Finally, once you find a good book, take a look at its subject. You can search for subjects directly, "social life and customs", "case studies", or "ethnology" + a people group or region:

Navajo Indians and Social Life and Customs

Need more help? Feel free to ask at any library desk or book an appointment with a librarian!

Cite your sources! These tips on searching ethnographies are from Adam Beauchamp at Tulane University and Jenny Bowers at University of Denver.

Using eHRAF World Cultures

eHRAF World Cultures UCB access only for topics or cultural groups. Books and articles about an ethnic group are indexed by paragraph on topics like marriage, economics, or rituals. The Outline of Cultural Materials is a list of subjects covered in HRAF's 295 cultures.

In eHRAF World Cultures, you can find full-text ethnographies. To do this, "Browse Cultures" then choose by name or region. The "Collection Documents" will list books or articles on this group. Click the title to read online, but it may be easier to then search for the book in the library catalog and check it out to read at home!

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