Anthropological Case Studies are ethnographies that have been gathered by participant observation ov

Anthropological Case Studies are ethnographies that have been gathered by participant observation over long periods of involvement with a community, using both emic and etic perspectives:

An ”emic” account is a description of behavior or a belief in terms meaningful (consciously or unconsciously) to the actor; that is, an emic account comes from a person within the culture. Almost anything from within a culture can provide an emic account.
An ”etic” account is a description of a behavior or belief by an observer, in terms that can be applied to other cultures; that is, an etic account attempts to be culturally neutral. (

Etic accounts are viewed through Cultural Relativism: ethical behavior in culture-specific settings.

What to do:

Compare and contrast two case studies we have looked at so far this semester. The point of the exercise is for you to demonstrate an understanding of how these different practices from the past
and/or from the present serve social needs in different cultures around the world. Give emic perspectives for both sides and your personal (etic) perspective on the practices as a whole.

Choose one of the following sets of Case Studies for this assignment:

A) Different approaches: Shamanistic use of hallucinogens vs. recreational drug use

How to do it:

1) Introduce your two examples clearly by name, location and timeframe. Write a solid thesis statement
that encapsulates the intention of this essay and place it at the end of your first paragraph.

2) Discuss the process and function of change in religious practices/belief structures/healing systems.
What changes occur in a traditional culture when a new belief system is imposed or assimilated?
What changes occur in the new belief system in response to accommodating or changing the old?
What were/are the intended and/or unexpected results from these changes?

3) Using specific examples from your chosen case studies, discuss the implied or stated ethical
problems, behaviors and long-term outcomes of the case studies you are comparing.

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