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ANTH 301: Culture and Medicine: Healers and Healing Practices (Wilken)

ANTH 301: Term Paper (Ethnographic or Ethnological Approach)

ANTH 301: Ethnographic or Ethnological Approach

For Professor Wilken's class, you will compose a 1500-word term paper that incorporates either an ethnographic or ethnological approach.

1) Ethnographic approach

This is a case study, or a medical ethnography, of a healer. Based on interviews with a healer (curandero/a, medicine person, physician, nurse, social worker, herbalist, traditional practitioner, etc.), and if possible, participant/observation in the culture of the healer, your ethnography will explore such concepts as world view, causation, recruitment, diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Interview questions will guide your ethnography; it is a good idea to list these in your research proposal (due in week five). Your paper will include the most relevant information from the interview(s). For direct quotes from the person interviewed, you will need to use proper punctuation per Chicago Manual of Style. You will provide an overall context for the type of healing that the person does; this will require some ethnological research, in which you summarize information based on a minimum of three references from scholarly sources. This provides background information, a framework that places your interview and participant/observation in a wider, cross cultural context, however it will not be as in-depth as approach #2.

2) Ethnological approach

This project involves research based on the cross-cultural comparison of existing ethnographic data (anthropological studies of world cultures). To provide background, you may also use historical, biological, medical or other types of documents. This will require academic research rather than participant observation in the field. You will relate the subject to some of the concepts we have been studying in class, such as the relationship of the healing practices to the cultures in which they are practiced, including their economic, political and religious systems. Depending on your subject, you may explore world view, concepts of causation, diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Your paper should include a minimum of six references from scholarly sources.


Some possible subjects for ethnological research projects include:

* Chinese Medicine

* Ayurvedic Medicine

* History of Biomedicine

* Humoral medicine

* Complementary and Alternative Medicine

* Nutrition

* Chiropractic

* Physical fitness and health

* Psychological and psychiatric healers and healing practices cross-culturally

* Social and/or cultural healers and healing practices cross-culturally

* The arts and healing


If you have research ideas other than the ones listed above, please consult with Professor Wilken.

ANTH 301: Identify and Find Scholarly Articles

GBST 100 Identify a scholarly article

A scholarly article is how researchers (scholars) communicate the findings and analysis of their research. Scholarly articles:

  • Provide original research and analysis - these articles are based on studies or experiments, or analyze an artifact or event. Every scholarly article presents something new about the world we didn't know before.
  • Are written by scholars - scholars tend to hold PhDs, or other advanced degrees and are professors at universities.
  • Are published in peer-reviewed journals - These are generally accessed via library databases.
  • Might be hard to read - they act as the primary conversation between scholars about a field of study. Since they are written by scholars, for scholars, they contain specialized language that might be hard for the lay person to understand.

Credit: Allison Carr

WATCH: What is a scholarly article?

TUTORIAL: Find a scholarly article using CSUSM library databases

Popular, Scholarly, and Trade Sources (knowing the difference) (University of Texas Libraries)

ANTH 301: Find Scholarly Articles

Boolean Searching in the Databases


Image credit: Information Resource Center Blog

Tips on searching the databases

Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:

Tip Examples
Use keywords, not long search phrases

Instead of searching for "How is Ayurvedic medicine a useful intervention for heart conditions?" break down your search into the main keywords:

Ayurveda, Ayurvedic medicine, health, heart, cardiovascular, hypertension, India, phytotherapy, hatha yoga,  massage

Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together

Use AND to combine different keywords

"massage therapy" AND Ayurveda 
Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords Ayurveda AND (cultur* or ethnograph*)
Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject 


Library Databases for Anthropology

Anthropology Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly

Access to the latest research in core anthropology journals, including social and cultural studies.

Report Problems
Full-text current to current All
Academic Search Premier

This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most
CINAHL Complete

CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature, provides indexing for articles from 5,400 journals in the fields of nursing and allied health. This database provides full text access to more than 1,300 journals dating back to 1937.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1937 to current Most

Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.

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Full-text 1838 to most recent five years Most
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1963 to current All

Provides full text access to over 1,000 journals covering all fields of science.

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Full-text 1995 to current Most
Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Communication & Mass Media Complete

Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1950 to current Some

Available via EbscoHost: A comprehensive international database of psychology, covering the academic, research, and practice literature in psychology from over 45 countries in more than 30 languages.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1887 to current All

Search all of ProQuest's databases.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1971 to current Most
Wiley Online Library

Access to abstracts and full text from journals, reference works, databases, and books. Disciplines covered include the life sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology, earth sciences, education, social sciences, humanities, business, and mathematics

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Some full-text 1996 to current Most

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