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How do I Find an Ethnography?


 

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This Web exercise will teach you how to search for ethnographies in the UA Library's catalog. Follow the directions below and fill in the blanks.

When you are finished, you can make a printout of your answers if you are doing this assignment as part of a class.

Navajo? Navajo People? Dine?

Part 1: Start with the right Subject Heading

Choosing the right subject heading can be tricky, especially when searching for cultures and native peoples. Luckily, they tend to follow certain patterns:

Peoples of the Western Hemisphere (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America):
>> Add the work "Indians" to the name of the tribe, for example:

  • use Navajo Indians, NOT "Navajos" or Navajo People"
  • use Hopi Indians, NOT "Hopis" or "Hopi People"

Peoples of Africa, Europe, or Asia
>> Add the continent on which they live and add the word "people," for example:

  • use Kikuyu African People , NOT Kikuyus,” “Kikuyu people” or “Kikuyu tribe”
  • use Sami European People , NOT “Sami” or “Samis”
  • use Hmong Asian People , NOT “Hmongs” or “Hmong tribe”

Exceptions
Of course, there will be occasional exceptions to the rules. For example, the Ainu of Japan have the subject heading of “Ainu,” not “Ainu Asian People.” The Tuaregs of northern Africa have the subject heading of “Tuaregs,” not “Tuareg African People.”

Occasionally, a group will be classified under a smaller geographic area:

  • the Karen people of Myanmar: use Karen Southeast Asian People
  • Apaches in Arizona, not Mexico or New Mexico: use Apache People Arizona

If you do not find what you want using the above rules, try entering the name of the culture or group without a suffix: “Yanomamo” without the “people,” or “Tuareg” without the “African people.”

But I Don't Want Everything!

Part 2: Narrow your subject with the right subject subheading

You may find that subject-searching solely for a culture will produce too many irrelevant hits. It is a good idea to narrow your subject heading by using a "subheading" or "suffix."

The most often-used subject heading subheading for ethnographies is "Social life and customs."

For example:

  • Hopi Indians – Social life and customs
  • Sami European People – Social life and customs

Remember, however, that ethnographies may focus on a particular aspect of a culture. Depending on what you’re investigating, you may wish to look for the subheading that corresponds to your research. For example:

  • Sami European People – Funeral customs and rites
  • Crow Indians – Religion

 

ANOTHER SEARCH STRATEGY

Part 3: You can also use Keyword Searches

You can also find ethnographies in the library catalog with a Keyword search. This is a last resort, because many ethnographies do not have the word "ethnography" in their titles, and if you only do a keyword search, you will miss a great many likely sources.

Here are some hints:

  • Use the asterisk! The asterisk is important because it will expand the term. For example:
    • ethnograph* finds materials with the words "ethnography", "ethnographic", "ethnograph", etc.
    • Navajo* will get you "Navajo" and "Navajos."
    • Nava*o* will also get you the alternative spelling of Navajo: Navaho.
  • Search for the name of the group AND ethnograph* For example:
    • Navajo* AND ethnograph*
    • Sami* AND ethnograph*
    • Kikuyu* AND ethnograph*
  • Search for the aspect of the culture you want to research: Many ethnographies do not have the word "ethnography" in their titles, so it is also useful to do a keyword search combining the name of the group and the aspect of the culture being researched. For example:
    • For Navajo religious ceremonies: Navajo* AND religio* AND ceremon*
    • For Kikuyu hunting rituals: Kikuyu* AND hunt* AND rit* (rit* for "ritual" and "rites")

 

When you want an article-length ethnography

Part 4: Databases & Encyclopedias

The following article indexes and encyclopedias are also good resources for finding article-length ethnographies and citations to books:

For ethnographies of peoples from ALL geographic areas:

For ethnographies of Native Americans of the United States, Canada and Mexico:

For ethnographies of peoples of Mexico, Central and South America:

For ethnographies of peoples of Asia, including Southeast Asia, Oceania and the subcontinent:

For ethnographies of peoples of Africa:

REVIEW QUESTIONS

Using Subject Headings

Your class assignment is to find ethnographies on the Crow, a North American Plains Indian people.

1. What is the correct subject heading for the Crow?
a. Crow people
b. Crow Indians
c. Crow Indian people

2. Do a subject search in the library’s catalog [link will open in a new window] for the Crow, using the correct subject heading determined earlier. How many subheadings are there for the Crow? [example: in "Crow Indians Fiction", the subheading is "Fiction"]
a. 14
b. 21
c. 32.

3. Read through the list of subheadings attached to the Crow subject heading. Which is the subheading that will most likely cover ethnographies?
a. Fiction
b. Folklore
c. Social Life and Customs
d. Pictorial Works and Exhibitions

4. What other subheadings besides the one determined above might also be good sources of ethnographies?
a. Religion
b. Legal Status, Laws, Etc.
c. History
d. Biography

Searching by Keyword

5. Which of these records retrieved is most likely NOT an ethnography?
a. Basso, Keith H. Heavy with hatred: an ethnographic study of western Apache witchcraft.
b. Friedlander, Eva. Indian use of the Santa Fe National Forest: a determination from ethnographic sources.
c. Farrer, Claire R. Play and inter-ethnic communication: a practical ethnography of the Mescalero Apache.

6. Your assignment is to find ethnographies of the Apache, using the keyword search option. How would you formulate a keyword search for Apache ethnographies?
a. apache* AND ethnograph*
b. apache AND ethnography*
c. apache* AND ethnography

7. Using the correct keyword search format, do a keyword search in the library catalog for Apache ethnographies. How many records does this search retrieve?
a. 8
b. 15
c. 26

Ethnography Databases and Encyclopedias

8. Where would you be most likely to find citations to ethnographies on the Yanomamo (a people living in the Amazon forests of Venezuela)?
a. Bibliography of Asian Studies
b. Bibliography of Native North Americans
c. Hispanic American Periodicals Index

9. Where would you be likely to find citations to ethnographies on the Sami (also called Lapplanders, they live in the farthest north reaches of Norway)?
a. Hispanic American Periodicals Index
b. Anthropological Literature
c. International Index to Black Periodicals

10. The encyclopedia set The Handbook of North American Indians (HNAI) features short ethnographies on:
a. The tribes of the United States
b. The tribes of the United States, Canada and northern Mexico
c. The tribes of North and South America

  Congratulations!
You are done!

Ethnography tutorials index page | What is an Ethnography?

Last modified: June 28, 2013