Seminar Details

Ethnography for Archaeologists

Registration Closed!

Ethnography for Archaeologists

When: September 23, 2021 2:00-4:00 PM

Duration: 2 hours

Certification: RPA-certified


Individual Registration: $99 for SAA members; $149 for non-members

Group Registration: $139 for SAA members; $189 for non-members

Matthew Emerson is a career archaeologist who has worked on prehistory and historical archaeological field investigations through CRM, museums and academia. He has been teaching Anthropology and Archaeology at universities and colleges for several years. His ethnographic experience includes: observing and creating software for assembly line workers at the Ford Motor Company (St. Paul, MN), working with Native Americans and collections at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology (U.C. Berkeley), volunteering and interpreting for the public at Point Reyes National Seashore (NPS, Kule Loklo-Miwok village and Morgan Horse farm). Using historical records, ethnographic accounts and art historical research, Dr. Emerson has written extensively about African inspirations and survivals in locally made tobacco pipes recovered from 17th century settlements in the Chesapeake region. He has also directed ethnographic field research among the peoples of Northern Edo state, Nigeria and he is one of the editors of Edo North, Field Studies of the Languages and Lands of the Northern Edo (2011). Currently, he is working on an article on cassava farming and village gari production based on field research among the Okpameri of Akoko-Edo local government area, Nigeria.

This online seminar begins with a review of the descriptive and interpretative nature of ethnography as it has been traditionally and more recently practiced in Anthropology and Archaeology. Concepts and methods are summarized with insights into their value for investigations of pre-text, historical and contemporary societies. The overall premise is that learning about other peoples adds to a knowledge about the human condition and culture which may make us better people. This lecture is for first-in-field and experienced practioners and includes time for sharing ethnographic experiences.

  1. Understand the terms associated with the theory and practice of ethnography in modern, historical and prehistory contexts.
  2. Review the methods of ethnography including: participant-observation, thick description, interviewing and recording, concepts of manifest and latent functionality, etic-emic, perspectives, impression management and positionality, and the impact and ethical, responsibilities of researcher(s) to sponsors and studied communities.
  3. Understand how and when modern or historical ethnographic studies may inform inquiries on human relationships with and connections to landscapes, natural and built environments, subsistence strategies and material culture.
  4. Become familiar with the challenges and benefits of connecting ethnographic inquiry with living communities engaged in heritage research.
  5. Understand the concept of research as surveillance and the ethnographic refusal.