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Ethnography as product: a history of ethnography
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As a written account, an ethnography focuses on a particular population, place and time with the deliberate goal of describing it to others. So, often, did the writings of nineteenth-century explorers, *missionaries, military agents, journalists, travellers, and reformers; and these contain much information useful to anthropologists. What distinguishes the first ethnography, *Louis Henry Morgan’s The League of the Ho-de-nosau-nee or Iroquois (1851), from these other writings are two qualities: its attempt to depict the structure and operation of Iroquois society from the Iroquois viewpoint (the ethnographic point of the anthropological triangle), and its grounding in the †monogenist anthropological theorizing of its time (the comparative point of the triangle), ideas to which Morgan would make major additions and reformulations. Morgan’s book detailed Iroquois †matrilineal *kinship, political and ceremonial life, *material culture, and *religion; the ethnographic basis for this information being Morgan’s partnership with the Western-educated Iroquois Ely S.Parker, his translator and cultural interpreter. The book’s attention to history, geography, the impact of White settlers and contemporary land-rights issues also established standards for pre-and postfieldwork contextualization (the third point of the triangle) that anthropologists continue to heed.