IB Cultural Anthropology/The Ethnographies/How to Read an Ethnography
An ethnography is usually a book that studies a particular culture in depth. Ethnographies do not necessarily need to be books, however- they can also be films.
Steps to reading ethnography
- Find the interpretation.
- Separate the interpretation from the description
- Examine the selection of data.
- What did the anthropologist spend the most time on?
- Examine the theoretical framework the ethnography is working within.
- Find the fundamental questions the ethnography is trying to answer.
- These are usually provided in the introduction or first chapter.
- Examine the organization of the ethnography.
Interpretation vs. Description
An example of the difference between description and interpretation is as follows:
Examine the “wink.”
A description of a wink would be: blinking one eye. This, however, is hardly satisfying.
Interpretation of this data would show that winking is a gesture that indicates:
- Other emotions
This would provide a much more thorough understanding of what a “wink” really is.