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Ethnography: Overview

Ethnography - What is it?

"The word 'ethnography' has a double meaning in anthropology: ethnography as product (ethnographic writings - the articles and books written by anthropologists), and ethnography as process (participant observation or fieldwork"

-- "Ethnography" / Roger Sanjek. Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. (2nd ed. Routledge, 2010): 243-249.

International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed. Elsevier, 2015) distinguishes between 'ethnography' ("the investigation and description of cultures and societies through fieldwork") and 'ethnology' ("cross-culturally comparative analyses").

The Library of Congress uses the subject heading "Ethnology" to describe "works on the discipline of ethnology, and works on the origin, distribution, and characteristics of the elements of the population of a particular region or country". "Ethnography" is not a Library of Congress subject heading.

Good overviews of ethnography

Handbooks are reference works that offer chapter-length articles on specific aspects of the handbook's overall theme. They're a great way to discover important themes and trends, and they have lengthy bibliographies for your next step.

Ethnographic video collections in the Penn Libraries

The Penn Libraries own or subscribe to thousands of ethnographic videos, as videostreams, DVDs, VCDs, and VHS videotapes. All videos are described in Franklin:Catalog. A related catalog, VCat lags behind Franklin:Catalog but offers video-specific search filtering.

Ethnographic films may be assigned one of several Library of Congress subject headings or genre/format terms:

Ethnographic films Documentary films
Educational films Travelogues

Use these terms with the Format:Video filter in a Franklin:Catalog "Keyword Expert" search to identify ethnographic videos on a specific cultural group or topic:

Keyword Expert = (food OR cuisine OR dining) AND ("ethnographic films" OR "documentary films" OR "educational films" OR travelogues) [Limited to: Format:Video]

Keyword Expert = subject:(appalachia* OR "west virginia") AND ("ethnographic films" OR "documentary films" OR "educational films" OR travelogues) [Limited to: Format:Video]

Librarian & Coordinator of Social Sciences Collections

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Lauris Olson
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