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AAAD 214: Ethnography of Africa: Home

Tips & Tricks on how to find ethnographies in Davis library

This guide will be useful to students in AAAD 214 to find ethnographies in Davis library.

Where are Ethnographies located in the library?

  • Finding ethnographies in the library catalog isn't always straightforward or easy. First of all, there isn't a specific Library of Congress subject heading (LCSH) just for ethnographies. The most common subject heading subheading assigned to ethnographies is "social life and customs" but "case studies"  and "ethnology" are other subheadings that may be applied.

    Since ethnographic books about a particular cultural group, region of the world, or subject area are grouped with other books about that region, country, or subject area, you won't be able to find all ethnographies shelved in one place in the library. Given all of these factors, here are some tips for using the library catalog to identify ethnographies:

    1) Identify the correct name of the group you are researching. For example, the subject heading for the !Kung is "!Kung (African people)" not Kung Bushmen, and "Ashanti (African people)". 

    2) Once you have the correct name of the group or subject,  search with that name and the subheading phrase "social life and customs". For example, search:

    !Kung (African people) -- Social life and customs

    either as an exact subject heading search, or as a keyword search.

    3) Try searching the name of the group or subject in combination with the subheading "case studies." Although not all case studies are ethnographies, some of the titles retrieved from this search might be ethnographies.  You will need to look at the books to determine if they are actually ethnographies.

    4) Search with the group name or subject and the subheading "ethnology." Again, you will need to look at the books to determine if they are ethnographies.

    5) Search by keywords with your group name or subject and add the truncated term "ethnograph*" (e.g., maasai and ethnograph*). This search will only retrieve those titles that have ethnography in the title (not all do) or somewhere else within the record.

    6) Try a keyword search that combines the name of the group and the aspect of the culture that you want to research. You will need to look at the books to determine if they are ethnographies.

    7) Search in the library catalog by a series title, such as Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology or Contemporary Ethnography, and then review the books to determine if a specific title is an ethnography. Potential series are listed in the box to the left.

    8) Identify an anthropologist and then search by his or her name as an author in the catalog to determine if he or she has published an ethnography based on their fieldwork.  You can use biographical sources such as the Biographical Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology or the International Dictionary of Anthropologists to find potential authors.

From:, University of Denver Libraries.

Useful subject headings

Start in the Library Catalog and use subject headings or keywords in combination with an ethnic group or cultural aspect. For example:

  • Case studies
  • Ethnology
  • Folklore
  • Public health
  • Climate changes
  • Economic aspects

Series of ethnographies

Look for series in the library catalog with the advanced search button.

Anthropology of contemporary issues

Case studies in cultural anthropology

Contemporary ethnography

Smithsonian Series in Ethnographic Inquiry

New Directions in Ethnography

New Ethnography

Reference works

Finding ethnographies in databases

Finding ethnographies in full-text sources

Examples of ethnographies


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Joanneke Fleischauer

UNC Writing Center

What makes a good research question?

Handout from Duke University's Thompson Writing Program. Has good guidelines and examples of research questions in the humanities and social sciences.

Interlibrary Loan

Carolina BLU logo and link

Can't find the article, book, or report you need at our library? You can request it from another library through interlibrary loan.

MLA is the primary citation style used in the Humanities.

MLA Style Resources

Call Numbers in Davis Library

Use this Location Guide to find books in Davis.