Published 10 Apr 2017

Ethnography (comes from the terms ethnos, which means people, and graphein, which means writing) is the field of writing that illustrates anecdotal degrees of quantitative and qualitative metaphors of human social trends and events, founded on fieldwork. It shows the results of complete research process based on the principle that a method’s attributes cannot necessarily be exactly recognized and grasped in parallel of each other. The field has both strict and chronological associations to travel writing and regal office accounts (Hammersley/Atki, 2007).

Barbara Myerhoff was an anthropologist whose method in ethnography was more focused on the relation of the past experiences and the future experiences. She used this approach to unravel the problem of meaning and identity of her subject. She stressed that the past memories and experiences would make a particular culture or ethnic group formulate its future. She suggested a construction of the future based from the past in order to derive the meaning and identity of the studied culture or ethnic group (Myerhoff, 1980).

On the other hand, Julie Cruikshank was also an anthropologist however her approach to ethnography was really different from Myerhoff. She focused her study on the oral history and narratives of her subject. She did her research method by maintaining the past experiences and memories of particular culture or ethnic tribe and then making narratives out of it. These narratives were eventually used to present the way of life of her subject (Cruikshank, 1992).

Both of them used an approach that which is constituted on the historical processes that their subjects took. However, Cruikshank’s method was more confined in the past experiences of her subject which limits the scope of analysis to its history. Myerhoff’s research process was more dynamic and applicable since it also addressed the relationship of the past to the future.


  • Cruikshank, J. (1992). Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders (New ed.). University of Nebraska Press.
  • Hammersley/Atki. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in Practice (3rd ed.). Routledge.
  • Myerhoff, B. (1980). Number Our Days. Touchstone.
Did it help you?