Can I view ethnographic documentaries online?

Yes, and right now, the easiest way to view ethnographic documentaries is to use the database Ethnographic Video Online, which we have as a trial through April 30, 2012. Ethnographic Video Online provides access to 803 videos about human culture and behavior, including classic and contemporary documentaries, indigenous media, previously unpublished footage from anthropologists and ethnographers, and some feature films. The scope of the collection is extensive; the goal is to cover “every continent and hundreds of unique cultures.” The database is also designed to facilitate cross-cultural comparisons by allowing users to identify footage with similar content for different cultures or regions.

You can choose either to search or browse the collection by ethnographer/author, geographic location, cultural groups, subjects, date, and people (e.g., participant, activist, tribe member, anthropologist). The advanced search interface also permits searching in the text, transcripts, and notes, and limiting by language, original release or recording date, and content type (animation, documentary, field recording, interview, and performance). Cultural groups are browsed through a regional map; the United States, for example, is represented currently by 127 videos for 18 cultural groups, from the broadly described “American” or “American Indian,” to the specific, “Apache,” “Louisiana Creole,” and “Yupik.”

Subject coverage also ranges widely and encompasses films about “language and culture, kinesthetics, body language, food and foraging, cooking, economic systems, social stratification and status, caste systems and slavery, male and female roles, kinship and families, political organization, conflict and conflict resolution, religion and magic, music and the arts, culture and personality, and sex, gender, and family roles.” In this database, you can find ethnographic documentaries about amusement parks, cheerleading, cross-dressing, ethnobotany, healers, orphans, pictographics, rebellions, shamanism, swamps, tattoos, and voter fraud, among many others.

Our current trial to Ethnographic Video Online is combined with Anthropology Online, a database of more than 140 full-text anthropology sources, including ethnographies, reference works, essays, autobiographies, and reports. These databases can be searched either simultaneously or individually.

Remember that our trial is good through April 30.  If you use Ethnographic Video Online, please be sure to give us your feedback.  We would love to know what you think!  Thanks!

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