Ethnographies 1 - SE617

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


This module introduces ethnography and the ethnographic/documentary film as ways of understanding individual and social lives. The focus is both critical and practical investigation of the research methods, production and communicative methods underlying them. Students will therefore acquire both critical and practical training in these key ethnographic methodologies. The parallel histories of the development of ethnographic writing, ethnographic media making and visual anthropology will be explored to facilitate greater integration between written and visual media. Indicative areas in the reading, analysis and practice of ethnography might include: (1) Critical and Historical Contextualisation and Evaluation, (2) How to evaluate its contribution to particular issues and topics within Social Anthropology; (3) Theoretical contributions; (4) Methodology and research methods; (5) The evaluation of the relationship between description and analysis (6) Examination of its structure, presentation and ability to communicate an understanding of a social and cultural group through the written word; (7) Ethnographies, Photography and Multi-Media. Indicative areas in visual anthropology covered by the module might include: (1) Collaborative and Participatory Media Production (2) Photography, Soundscapes and the Senses (3) Cinema Verite and Ethnographic Film (4) Indigenous Media, Reception and Publics (5) The Transformative Efficacy of Video.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 26
Private study hours: 124
Total study hours: 150


BSc: Anthropology; BA: Social Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Year Abroad
BSc Human Geography

Method of assessment

Report (40%)
Short Essay 1300 words (20%)
Examination, 2 hours (40%).

Indicative reading

Bourgois, P. and J. Schonberg (2009) Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Emerson, R. et al. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: Chicago UP
Grimshaw, A. 2001. The Ethnographer's Eye: Ways of Seeing in Modern Anthropology. CUP
Jackson, M. 1998. Minima ethnographica: intersubjectivity and the anthropological project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jackson, M. (2000) At Home in the World. Durham: Duke University Press.
MacDougall, D 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton University Press
Narayan, K. (2012) Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Banks, M & Ruby, J (eds). 2011. Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pink, S. 2001/2007. Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage
Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Exoticisation Undressed: Ethnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes. Manchester: Manchester University Press
West, P. (2012) From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 demonstrate critical understanding of a number of ethnographies and ethnographic/documentary films
8.2 demonstrate an informed understanding of the production and analysis of ethnographies and ethnographic/documentary films
8.3 relate specific ethnographic texts and ethnographic/ documentary films to general theoretical anthropological topics or themes within visual anthropology
8.4 demonstrate knowledge of the research methods specific to the disciplines of social and visual anthropology
8.5 construct coherent and logical arguments combining visual and textual discourses, combining conceptual understanding with substantiated ethnographic examples.

8.6 critically relate their reading for this module to wider conceptual and ethical concerns in social anthropology, and the broader relationship between anthropological fieldwork and ethnographic writing
8.7 critically engage with some of the assumptions present in their understanding of the truth claims of ethnographies and ethnographic media productions.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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