Shane, the Lone Ethnographer : a Beginner’s Guide to Ethnography Book Review

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Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that deals with the description of specific human cultures, using methods such as close observation and interviews (thefreedictionary.com). I honestly didn’t know what all was entailed in the field of ethnography or the life of a student studying it before reading this and found that it is a lot of hard work. In the short story Shane, The Lone Ethnographer author Sally Campbell Galman walks you through the life of someone studying ethnographic. This book follows the young inexperienced ethnographer work and trouble shoot research methods, obtain and collect data while trying to complete for project for school. During the story readers follow the life of Shane, a graduate student at an unnamed university. Shane, The Lone Ethnographer is illustrated through light-hearted comic scenes that helps someone whose new to ethnography understand the methods, theories and skills that ethnographic researchers possess. Also, the creative storyline helped me understand the actual life of someone studying this branch. The storyline is easy to follow and walks the reader through ethnographic research through the main character, Shane. While reading you will understand the struggle and sometimes complete confusion of an individual’s first ethnographic study. Each chapter in this adventurous book has to do with a different part of ethnography. In this book review I will give my opinion of what was the weaknesses and strengths of this book.

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The book introduces the reader to the Lone Ethnographer, Shane in chapter one while she is daydreaming. Shane is a graduate college student at an unnamed university and has to decide what she is going to do for her project. Shane is stressed about picking a topic and later in that chapter she meets up with Sanjay at a local bistro to hopefully get his opinion and to discuss the situation. This is the first one of Shane’s friends we meet. Throughout the book we continue to meet more characters. In chapter two we meet Theorillo the armadillo. Making the characters fun and giving them silly names is one of the ways the author made this book so entertaining. Therillo teaches Shane different concepts and research models. The basic storyline of this book is that no matter how young, inexperienced or even if you doubt yourself if you try hard enough you can get do anything if you put your mind to it. This book follows the young inexperienced ethnographer work and trouble shoot research methods, obtain and collect data, etc.

Dr. Sally Campbell Galman is the author of this book and also did all of the illustrations. Dr. Galman is an anthropologist, oral historian, teacher educator, ruralist, writer and visual artist (sallycampbellgalman.com). She is also an award-winning cartoonist and is a professor in the School of Education, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Galman lives and works in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is married, is a mother and has a cat. The publisher of this book is Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC. and it was published in 2007.

Dr. Sally Campbell Galman thanked multiple people in the beginning of Shane, The Lone Ethnographer. She thanked all her friends at the University Of Colorado School Of Education. As well as her close friends and family. She gave a special shout out to her parents and thanked them for the love, encouragement and lots of art supplies. While writing this story I think Dr. Galman saw the younger version of herself in the main character Shane. I think her main inspiration for this book was herself.

I think the biggest strength in this book was the creativity Dr. Sally Campbell Galman had when writing it. You can tell she had a lot of ideas and is a really creative person. Most people would think that a book on ethnography and or anthropology would be dry and boring. Dr. Galman did a great job of creating a fun story-line that keeps you engaged in the story. She brought Shane to life and I could actually feel her confusion and frustration. I got a sense of all of her all characters personalities as well. Another thing that I liked was the big headings on the top of some pages. This helped me pre-think about what I was about to read. Another creative thing she did was adding the ethnography ABC’s in the back of the book. She made these words fun and also put them in a place where everyone knows they are so they can review if they wanted to.

Dr. Sally Campbell Galman’s biggest weakness in Shane, The Lone Ethnographer in my opinion is that I thought the cartoons / illustrations got chaotic, overwhelming and messy at some points. It was difficult to read and focus on some pages. I think that if Dr. Galman would have toned it down a little it would have been very beneficial. The first time I opened up the book I was very overwhelmed. I eventually got some what used to it but some pages were very difficult to read. The boxes with text and speech bubbles were the most difficult. I understand this is how this type of writing is done but I still think she could have toned it down.

In conclusion I thought this was a decent book. Besides the format being hard to read I enjoyed the story line and plot. I think this book exulted its mission which was teaching beginners in ethnography some information and also proving that this field of work is doable and isn’t that scary! I thought the ethnography ABC’s was a fun great idea to showcase vocabulary. I would recommend this book this book to any young adult and up that is interested in learning a little more about ethnography and what a ethnography student needs to know. I would also recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fun read.

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Shane, The Lone Ethnographer : A Beginner's Guide To Ethnography Book Review. (2019, Jun 24). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from
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