Explorations in Cross Cultural Anthropology, Pt 2: Ethnographic Outline

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Class size: Any
Source: Submitted by HRAF member

Learning Objectives

Does the exercise compare 2 or more cultures? No
Subject selection: Multiple subjects specified by teacher
Subjects/OCMS, if applicable:
Region selection: pre-selected
Region, if applicable:
Culture selection: Student chooses from pre-selected list
Cultures/OWCs, if applicable:

Classroom Guide

Instructions for navigating eHRAF included? Yes
Assignments for students to complete in groups? No
Assignments for students to complete on their own? Yes
Instructions for Microfiche version? No

Nicola Tannenbaum, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University

Go to: Part 1: Syllabus | Part 2: Ethnographic Outline | Part 3: eHRAF Assignments

The Ethnographic Outline must be used to complete the Comparative Essays in Part I and the eHRAF Assignments in Part III of Explorations in Cross-Cultural Anthropology. Follow this outline when evaluating the information found in the eHRAF World Cultures database.

I  Background

A.  Title
B.  Author
C.  Date first published
D.  When was the fieldwork done

II Methods

A.  How long in the field, how many trips?
B.  What methods did the anthropologist use?
C.  Kinds of information collected

III  Cultural Categories

Note: Click here for a list and descriptions of OCM subjects/codes corresponding to the Cultural Categories.  In the eHRAF World Cultures database the OCM subjects can be used to find relevant texts (either at the paragraph or page-level) in collected ethnographic works of cultures from around the world. Click here for examples of how OCM subjects are selected and used in an eHRAF Advanced Search.

A.  Kinds of beings in the world

1. Supernaturals

a. relationships to human beings

2. Kinds of humans.  List the different roles that people have in your culture and briefly describe how a good person in each role behaves. For example, a good man is brave, defends his honor, and supports his family through farming.. Your list must include: men; women; boys; girls; relevant kinship roles e.g. mother’s brother, fellow lineage member, expected marriage partner; any specialist economic, political, or religious; other relevant groups of people, ethnic groups, classes, etc.

a. gender relations (relationship between men and women and how characterized in local cultural terms)
b. kin and non-kin

i. is the culture organized in kin terms?
ii. relationships between kin and non-kin (both within the society and with other groups)

3.  Life cycle: list the stage and describe the expected behavior and associated ceremonies, if any.

a. birth
b. childhood
c. puberty
d. adulthood
e. marriage
f. old age
g. death
h. afterlife

4. Kinds of groups and what they do

a. kin groups
b. household
c. neighborhood
d. village
e. tribe
f. state

B.  Religion and worldview

1. Nature of the universe and how it operates

2. People’s place in the universe

3. Religion

a. division of religious labor
i. who are the religious practitioners (from A2 kinds of people)
how is each one recruited?
what does each one do?
ii. what religious role do the non-experts play?

4. Values

5. Beliefs

IV Living in the World

A.  Where do people live

1. Location of culture

2. Climate

3. Setting, e.g. rainforest, mountain valleys, etc.

B. Settlement and population

1. Kinds of settlements e.g. camps, permanent villages, cities

2. Settlement layout, sketch a map if possible, identifying houses, community structures, ritual structures, etc.

3. Kinds of houses

4. Population

a. whole group, if available
b. particular group studied

C. Economics or how people make their livings.

Note: making a living is more than earning money, it includes producing goods for the household to consume or exchange.

1.  Ways people make their livings. This can include farming, gardening, hunting, fishing, pastoralism.  What crops do they grow; what do they hunt, gather; what kinds of animals do they raise?

2. Resources needed to make a living. E.g. land, labor, tools, animals.

a. for each resource, how do people gain access to it.  E.g., if the group are farmers, how do they gain access to land? From inheritance, renting, clearing new lands, etc.  For labor, use their own labor, hire others, work as hired laborers?

3. How are products distributed or who gets what and why.

a. system of exchange. E.g. market, generalized reciprocity, barter, redistribution
b. how are these exchanges organized. E.g. within household, kin groups, communities, etc.
c. who is in charge of these exchanges?
d. are there competitive exchanges (like in movie Onka’s Big Moka?)
i. what are the units that participate in these competitive exchanges?

D. Politics

1. Political structure (egalitarian, ranked, state?)

2. Kinds of political leaders

a.  kinds of leaders.  E.g. chiefs, headmen, religious experts, elected leaders
b. what kinds of things can leaders do? E.g. order people to work for them, put people in jail, collect taxes, etc.
c. is the leader always a leader or does s/he only lead in a particular context.  E.g. war chiefs who were only in charge during a battle, religious experts only during a ceremony (like in the movie Feast in Dream Village), etc.
d. how do people become leaders? E.g. elected, inherited because 1st born or last born, etc.

3. Disputes

a. causes of disputes
b. how are disputes resolved
i. who has authority to resolve disputes, if anyone
ii. how are they resolved? E.g. fines, someone moving away, jail, etc.

4. Relationships between groups or foreign policy

a. sorts of political groups. E.g. villages, tribes, states, autonomous bands, etc.
b. what are the relationships between groups? E.g. trade, marriage, warfare, ritual, etc.
c. who is in charge of these relationships?
d. frequency of these interactions.

E. Process and change

1. sources of change. E.g. outside contact, warfare

a. forced change from government or other sources
b. people involved in change

2. kinds of change

a. economic
i. in ways people make their livings
ii. in how goods are distributed
b. political
i. in political leadership
ii. in relationship with other groups

3. consequences of change