Ethnographies for Intro to Cultural Anthro

The book series that Kirin Narayan and Alma Gottleib co-edit for Penn, Contemporary Ethnography, also has strong, narrative-based writing as a criterion, and perhaps you might find a title there that might catch your fancy.  You can see a full (alphabetical) list here.

You might also have a look at recent Victor Turner Award winners (listed at the bottom of the SHA website here).  Strong writing is the major criterion for the award.

AIDS and Masculinity in the African City, Robert Wyrod
‘AIDS and Masculinity in the African City: Privilege, Inequality, and Modern Manhood’ by Robert Wyrod (University of California Press, 2016). AIDS and Masculinity …


Popobawa: a linguistic anthro study of a legend on Zanzibar, discusses etic/emic perspectives, talks about fieldwork, and focuses on language use
Since the 1960s, people on the islands off the coast of Tanzania have talked about being attacked by a mysterious creature called Popobawa, a shapeshifter often …


Planning Families in Nepal: Global and Local Projects of Reproduction, Rutgers University Press, 2016 by Jan Brunson


Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil: Black Women’s Perspectives on Love, Respect, and Kinship (July 2018) by MELANIE A. MEDEIROS


Renegade Dreams (University of Chicago Press) by Laurence Ralph

Parallel Worlds and Braided Worlds (both fieldwork memoirs co-authored with my writer-husband) by Alma Gottlieb and Philip Graham

Marriage Without Borders: Transnational Spouses in Neoliberal Senegal (hc 2017, eb 2017). By Dinah Hannaford

Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India (hc 2014, eb 2014) by  Sarah Pinto

Death, Beauty, Struggle: Untouchable Women Create the World (hc 2017, eb 2017).  By  Margaret Trawick,

In Chocolate We Trust: The Hershey Company Town Unwrapped (2018).by Peter Kurie

Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment [about Brazil] (2013) by João Biehl

Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing (2013) [about Paris] by Didier Fassin

Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City.(2016)  by Amy Starecheski

Mothers on the Move: Reproducing Belonging between Africa and Europe.  (2016) By Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg.  You can see an interview  Alma Gottlieb did with her about the book here.

A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado (Texas 2009) by Dr. Carole Counihan
An innovative portrait of a small Colorado town based on a decade’s worth of food-centered life histories from nineteen of its female residents.

Exit Zero” (2013) by Christine Walley.  It shows how ethnography can be used in various ways and to address different levels of concern.  It has elements of a memoir, but deals with the impact of neoliberal on people, brings in issues of environmental degradation and health.  A wonderful read. (NF: might not work for us as not OWC)


Zenana (2006) by Laura Ring


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (2012)    by Paige West

Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery and Ecocide by  Kevin Bales (
Modern-day slavery is causing unchecked environmental destruction and climate change.


Polluted Promises, (2005) by Melissa Checker

Trickster (2010), by Eileen Kane, which is more of a memoir about her time doing ethnography among the Paiute – it reads like a murder mystery but introduces some anthropological concepts along the way.


Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies (2013) by Seth Holmes


In Search of Respect  (1996) P. Bourgois


Unending Hunger  (2015) by Megan Carney

Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism among an Amazonian Society (2001)  by Beth Conklin

Nadine Fernandez, Ph.D.
Mentor/Associate Professor/Dpt. Chair Social Science

SUNY Empire State College
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