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Writing in Anthropology

A Brief Guide

Shan-Estelle Brown

Publication Date - 24 November 2016

ISBN: 9780199381319

242 pages
5 x 8 inches

In Stock

The ideal pocket-sized manual for undergraduate anthropology students who want to improve their writing


Writing in Anthropology: A Brief Guide applies the key concepts of rhetoric and composition-audience, purpose, genre, and credibility-to examples based in anthropology. It is part of a series of brief, discipline-specific writing guides from Oxford University Press designed for today's writing-intensive college courses. The series is edited by Thomas Deans (University of Connecticut) and Mya Poe (Northeastern University).


  • Presents strategies for writing anthropologically about the world, as well as sentence-level style tips for effective prose
  • Brings in examples from across all subdisciplines in anthropology
  • Balances practical models with important theoretical and methodological discussions
  • Accessible enough to be used in introductory anthropology courses yet robust enough to serve upper-level undergraduates (and even early graduate students)

About the Author(s)

Shan-Estelle Brown is a medical anthropologist and assistant professor of anthropology at Rollins College. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the AIDS Program at Yale School of Medicine.


"For the future of the field and for our students, this text should become a beacon. Writing in Anthropology is a fantastic book arriving at a prescient moment. I know I will recommend it to my colleagues and assign it to my students." --Brian F. Codding, University of Utah

This text boils down anthropological writing into a manageable read for busy students taking five classes per semester with multiple papers requirements. It also covers the four major fields--very important." --Joseph E. Diamond, SUNY New Paltz

Concrete and full of useful examples, I think undergraduates would immediately benefit from Writing in Anthropology. --Joseph Hankins, University of California, San Diego

"A friendly, engaging, and informative introduction to anthropological writing. The text covers both the writing of anthropologists and the writing that anthropologists require of their students." --Edmund Searles, Bucknell University

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Thinking and Writing Like an Anthropologist
    Instead of Anthropology, Think Anthropologies
    How Writing Happens in Anthropology
    Genres of Anthropological Writing
    Expectations for Anthropological Writing

    Chapter 2: Writing Critiques, Response Papers, and Book/Film Reviews
    Compare/Contrast Papers
    Response Papers
    Book/Film Reviews

    Chapter 3: Navigating Field-Based Assignments
    Understanding the Assignment
    Managing the Data
    Entering the Field
    Collecting Data and Taking Detailed Notes
    Conducting an Interview
    Being Reflexive
    Write the Ethnography

    Chapter 4: Reviewing the Literature
    Finding a Promising Topic
    Searching for Articles
    Looking for Relationships and Patterns
    Setting Inclusion Criteria for Choosing Articles Relevant to Your Topic
    Reading to Extract Key Information from the Articles You Choose
    Developing Your Argument
    Structuring the Review

    Chapter 5: Writing Research Papers
    The Critical Research Paper
    Formulating a Working Thesis
    Composing a Strong Introduction
    Filling in the Body
    The Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion (IMRD) Report Format

    Chapter 6: Editing for Style
    Guidelines for writing about race, ethnicity, and special populations
    Special concerns for writing with numbers
    Writing about time
    Address gendered language
    Using "I"
    Be concise
    Master active & passive voice
    Choose the most precise verbs
    When to use present, past, and future verb tenses
    Employ Precise Transitions
    More Ways to Improve Flow
    When possible, make elements parallel
    Check the length of sentences and paragraphs, but also aim for variety
    Use jargon judiciously
    Recognize commonly misused words
    Use precise terms to signal the relationship between elements

    Chapter 7: Citing your Sources
    Two ways to mishandle sources: fabrication and plagiarism
    Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Sources
    AAA/Chicago Style Source Documentation

    Appendix: Guide to Peer Review in Anthropology

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