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The best ethnographies, as judged by ANU anthro students

When I was new to anthropology I really wanted some kind of ‘best of’ list of ethnographies to get me started. For the most part when I asked anthropologists to tell what work had influenced them the most, they had to stop and think about it or they gave equivocal answers.

So I’m pleased to circulate a recently drafted ‘best of’ list produced by anthropology students at the Australian National University. I am not endorsing the list, but simply making it available. ( If you’re curious to know what my favourite ethnographies are, see this post here.)

It’s encouraging that so many were published in the last fifteen years. Perhaps this is a sign of intellectual progress and generational change within the discipline.

Here it is, with thanks to Shiori Shakuto and the Anthropgrad list:

Abu-Lughod, Lila 1986. Veiled Sentiments: Honour and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Allison, Anne 1994. Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Anderson, Benedict 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso.

Bourgois, Phillipe 2002. In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge University Press.

Bourgois, Phillipe and Schonberg, Jeffrey 2009. Righteous Dopefiend. University of California Press.

Casaro, M Christina 2007. ‘Polo, Laughman, So Say: Situating Uyghur Food between Central Asia and China’. In Beller-Hann et al (eds) Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia. Ashgate.

Gammeltoft, Tine 2014. Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Golub, Alex 2014. Leviathans at the Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors in Papua New Guinea. Duke University Press.

Gordillo, Gaston R. 2014. Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Duke University Press.

Graeber, David 2009. Direct Action: An Ethnography. AK Press.

Gupta, Akhil 2012. Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India. Duke University Press.

Ho, Karen 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham: Duke University Press.

Ingold, Tim 2007. Lines: A Brief History. Routledge.

Kohn, Eduardo 2013. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Lea, Tess 2008. Bureaucrats and Bleeding Hearts: Indigenous Health in Northern Australia. UNSW Press.

Lora-Wainwright, Anna 2013. Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village. University of Hawaii Press.

Margold, Jane 1995. ‘Narratives of Masculinity and Transnational Migration: Filipino Workers in the Middle East’. In Ong, Aihwa and Peletz, Michael (eds). Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia. University of California Press.

Messick, Brinkley 1996. The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society. University of California Press.

Miller, Daniel 2008. The Comfort of Things. Polity Press.

Mueggler, Erik. 2001. The Age of Wild Ghosts: Memory, Violence, and Place in Southwest China. Uiversity of California Press.

Najmabadi, Afsaneh 2013. Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-sex Desire in Contemporary Iran. Durham, Duke University Press.

Paxson, Heather 2013. The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy 1992. Death without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Trawick, Margaret 1992. Notes on Love in a Tamil Family. University of California Press.

Tsing, Anna Lawenhaupt 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton University Press.

Turner, Victor 1970. The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Vankatesh, Sudhir 2014. Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy. Penguin Press.

Wacquant, Loic, 2007. Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. Oxford University Press.

Wardlow, Holly 2006. Wayward Women: Sexuality and Agency in a New Guinea Society. University of California Press.


One thought on “The best ethnographies, as judged by ANU anthro students

  1. Reblogged this on reflections on the everyday and commented:
    I haven’t blogged in a very long time. Part of it was being away in India, doing my fieldwork and then being back and trying to get used to life here. I have a blogpost in the works on the struggles of being back from fieldwork but first, here is a list of ethnographies curated by the students in anthropology at ANU.

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