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Anthropology

An introduction to the resources in anthropology at the College of San Mateo library.

What is an Ethnography?

An ethnography is a type of anthropological research writing in which a researcher has lived and worked alongside the people that she or he is studying, using a method called "participant observation."  Sometimes also called a "case study," an ethnography usually has several characteristics:

  • first person point of view - the author will often talk about her/his personal experiences with the tribe or culture, and will frequently say "I" in her/his writing.
  • fixed time period - the author will almost always identify the time period that she/he lived with the tribe or culture.  For example, the introduction or preface might say something like, "I lived in the village for three years, from 1985 until 1988."
  • one culture, sub-culture, or location - the book will usually be about a somewhat specific group of people, such as a village or small group of people.  Anthropology books that discuss regions, countries, or large populations are often not ethnographies.

Men clad in traditional saram fish the S. Coast of Sri Lanka.  Photo by Steve McCurry, 1995, courtesy of ArtSTOR.

For Professor Titus' ANTH 110 class, there are additional restrictions on what kinds of ethnographies are appropriate for the assignment.

  • no subculture, gang, or workplace ethnographies - if the defining characteristic of the people being studied is belonging to a certain social group or subculture (ie. hippies or gangs) OR a certain profession (ie. longshoremen or factory workers), then that ethnography is NOT suitable for the assignment.  If you are not sure, please feel free to ask a librarian or Prof. Titus.

Ethnographies @ CSM

Here you will find a selection of ethnography books available at CSM. Keep in mind that these books might already be checked out, so be sure to check the library catalog to make sure they are on the shelf.

Also, be sure to tell the library staff you are in ANTH 110 when checking out your ethnography, since you are able to keep it for the rest of the current semester (rather than the usual 3 week loan period).

More Ethnographies at CSM

Here you will find a even more ethnography books that are available at CSM. Keep in mind that these books might already be checked out, so be sure to check the library catalog to make sure they are on the shelf.

Also, be sure to tell the library staff you are in ANTH 110 when checking out your ethnography, since you are able to keep it for the rest of the current semester (rather than the usual 3 week loan period).