Ethnographic Video Online Series

Ethnographic Video Online Series

In today’s learning and research environment, it’s an ongoing struggle for anthropologists to gain insight into many remote and lesser-documented cultures of the world. Materials about these groups—especially visual media—are rare and, when extant, often scattered across multiple archives and formats, making them difficult to access. Ethnographic Video Online addresses this challenge by bringing together (when complete) 1,750 hours of documentaries, primary-source footage, and select feature films for the visual study of human culture and behavior, all in one user-friendly online interface.

In today’s learning and research environment, it’s an ongoing struggle for anthropologists to gain insight into many remote and lesser-documented cultures of the world. Materials about these groups—especially visual media—are rare and, when extant, often scattered across multiple archives and formats, making them difficult to access.

Ethnographic Video Online addresses this challenge by bringing together (when complete) 1,750 hours of documentaries, primary-source footage, and select feature films for the visual study of human culture and behavior, all in one user-friendly online interface.

Global in scope, this multi-volume resource contains video footage from every continent and hundreds of cultures, including, with the launch of Volume III, an intensive focus on indigenous perspectives and points of view.  As well as  bringing together the most frequently assigned films in anthropology, ethnography, and social psychology courses, the series exposes students to both foundational scholarship to be viewed and critiqued within its historical context, as well as contemporary voices that can offer an opposing or alternative interpretation of that scholarship and add a new perspective.

Publishing partners include the most significant names in visual anthropology, such as Documentary Educational Resources (DER), Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), Berkeley Media, and BBC, as well as many independent producers and distributors previously unavailable outside their regions.

Key topics within the series include:

  • Culture and cultural change
  • Language and communication
  • Kinship and family
  • Economic systems and globalization
  • Political organization and sovereignty
  • Religion, ritual, and ceremony
  • Music, dance, and art
  • Gender roles, sexuality, and identity
  • Social stratification and status
  • Conflict and conflict resolution
  • Agriculture, food, and sustainability
  • Migration and movement
  • Climate change
  • Human rights and land rights
  • Health
  • Ancestral beliefs and practices
  • Indigenous knowledge and aesthetics


Ethnographic Video Online: Volume I

Ethnographic Video Online: Volume I provides 750 hours of film, ranging from the most studied films for the anthropology classroom to indigenous media that give voice to lesser known groups and cultures.

Classic film highlights include The !Kung Bushman seriesThe Ax FightDead BirdsThe HuntersA Kalahari FamilyNanook of the NorthRivers of Sand, the complete Yanomamo series, plus works from Jean Rouch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and more.

Contemporary works in Volume I come from Australians Nicole Ma and Michelle Mahrer, Raju Gurung of Nepal, Dakxin Bajrange of India, Italy’s Caterina Borelli, Hu Tai-Li of Taiwan, Japan’s Ikeda Hajime, Ana María Pavez of Chile, Mexico’s Juan Francisco Urrusti, and others.

The collection also includes filmmaker interviews, retrospectives, never-before-published “hidden archive” collections, privately held footage from working anthropologists, and films that address practical and philosophical questions about the discipline.

Ethnographic Video Online: Volume II

Building on the foundational content in the first volume, Ethnographic Video Online: Volume II introduces 500 hours of material, both archival and contemporary films. This second volume also documents current issues such as environmental crises, refugee migration, and endangered languages.

Featured works include:

  • RAI’s six-part series from Central Television, Strangers Abroad, including Franz Boas’s The Shackles of Tradition and Bronislaw Malinowski’s Off the Verandah.
  • Selections from the Asia Pacific Films collection including Xie Fei, master filmmaker from China who made feature films in Mongolia (Mongolian Tale) and Tibet (Song of Tibet) and Garin Nugroho, Indonesia's most famous filmmaker, whose film The Poet features amateur actors from the village of Takengon, and Bird Man Tale, shot in West Papua.
  • Forbidden Rites, a series produced for National Geographic that includes films on cannibalism, head hunting, and human sacrifice.
  • Internationally recognized films from ZED, including Becoming a ManMaster of the Spirits, andLands of Legends.

Ethnographic Video Online: Volume III, Indigenous Voices

Volume III complements the preceding volumes by expanding the geographic coverage of the series into Oceania, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as offering indigenous perspectives and voices historically left out of traditional anthropological study. The implicit “us versus them” construct of classical anthropological models is being complicated by cultural and social observations, descriptions, analyses, and works by indigenous scholars, writers, artists, filmmakers, and other commentators who are challenging earlier representations, most of which were by outsiders. The role of the traditional ethnographer is changing, and Volume III is the only academic collection in the world to offer a comprehensive resource of documentaries, feature films, and shorts made by (and often for) indigenous people who allow us inside their world view, interpret their history, and analyze their culture.

At completion, Volume III will contain 500 hours of documentaries, ethnographic films, narrative feature films, and shorts from around the world; 300 of those hours will focus on content from Oceania, Australia, and New Zealand, while the remaining 200 will cover the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Topics covered are simultaneously local and global, with a particular emphasis on the human effects of climate change; sustainability; indigenous and local ways of interpreting history, culture, and cultural change; and traditional knowledge and storytelling.

Key featured content

Films from Samoan filmmaker and ethnographer Galumalemana Steven Percival, who has recorded rituals and traditions in contemporary Samoa, many of which have not been accessible outside the region until now. (His ethnographic recordings of traditional gift-giving practices and community singing open an invaluable window onto contemporary Samoan culture and the challenges they are facing. Key titles include Aia Tatau a Tagata Soifua: Perspectives on Human Rights in Samoa,Vivii I le Atua: Exploring Religious Freedom in Samoa, and E Au le Ina'ilau a Tama'ita'i: Exploring Gender Issues in Samoa. These films are not available in any other resource in North America.)

Films produced by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, an organization whose membership includes twelve nations and territories in the Pacific.

Building Flood Resilient Communities and Harvesting the Heavens, documenting climate change and local communities’ attempts to find sustainable solutions.

Films from Larry Thomas, known for exposing and examining social justice issues in Fiji such as poverty, racial tension, and the fate of the disabled, including Compassionate Exile, a documentary exploring life in a leprosy community, and A Race for Rights, which documents Fiji’s political situation at the turn of the millennium from a Fijian perspective.

Vilsoni Hereniko’s feature film The Land Has Eyes, the first film from Fiji nominated for an Academy Award, and his documentary Moana: Rising of the Sea, which gives Pacific Islanders a voice in telling what the world stands to lose if climate change continues.

Dances of Life, by Catherine Tatge, a seminal work documenting dance traditions from across the Pacific, accompanied by recordings of the 9th and 10th Festival of Pacific Arts, where dance traditions live in a contemporary context.

The documentary Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation, which features respected Hawaiian scholars who illuminate how the United States illegally overthrew the peaceful kingdom of Hawai'i for commercial and military reasons.

All ten of Eddie Kamae’s documentaries, including Listen to the Forest, which captures the Hawaiian culture of respect for the land and use of plants for healing. (Available as a complete collection for the first time outside of Hawai'i.)

Yokwe Bartowe and Lañinbwil's Gift from filmmaker Jack Niedenthal, highlighting the culture and people of the Marshall Islands.

In My Father’s Country and Dhakiyarr vs. the King, two seminal works from Australian filmmaker Tom Murray, whose work with communities in Arnhem Land, which opens windows onto this remote region of Australia through the documentation of rite of passage ceremonies rarely seen outside the community.

Stranger in My Skin–Ray Cotti, which deals with the identity challenges facing many indigenous youth in Australia and around the world. (Created by Darlene Johnson, a contemporary filmmaker from the Dunghutti tribe in New South Wales, Australia.)

The New Oceania: Albert WendtWriter, a documentary directed by Shirley Horrocks, combining in-depth research, travel, and striking archival footage of the personal story of arguably the most influential and well-known Pacific Island writer in the world.

Award-winning documentaries including Nickel in Kanaky, which won the Jury Grand Prize in the 2014 FIFO Film Festival in Tahiti and tells the little-known story of self-determination of the Kanaks of New Caledonia, as they obtain their share of wealth arising from mining in their country.

The award-winning documentary from New Zealand, Made in Taiwan, which uses DNA evidence to trace the family ancestry of Samoan Oscar Kightley and Maori radio and TV personality Nathan Rarere all the way to Taiwan.

Selections exploring history and contemporary issues from MicSem’s library of documentaries about Micronesia.

Short dramas exploring contemporary issues from Vanuatu’s Won Smolbag Theater.

Teaching power

Ethnographic Video Online is available on Alexander Street’s advanced online interface, which provides an array of features to enhance teaching and learning.

  • The collection is indexed to meet the specific search needs of anthropology faculty and students. Search and browse by ethnographer, cultural group, publisher, place discussed, primary and secondary content, and other criteria.
  • Clip-making tools, personalized playlists, and annotations let you integrate content straight into your syllabus or LMS.
  • Synchronized, searchable, scrolling transcripts run alongside each video, enhancing navigation and access.
  • Unlike physical DVDs, online streaming makes it easy to queue up video for in-class or assigned watching, and it allows unlimited simultaneous viewers on campus or off.

Publication details

Ethnographic Video Online is a multi-volume online collection available to academic, public, and school libraries worldwide via subscription. Volumes are available individually or as a set. Prices are scaled to institutional size and budget.


I have received more positive feedback from [Ethnographic Video Online: Volume III] than anything else we've purchased from any vendor. People stop me in the hall to tell me how much they love it.

Marynelle Chew Librarian, Joseph F. Smith Library, Brigham Young University-Hawaii

This high-quality, one-of-a-kind resource is invaluable for most programs in the social sciences and specifically for film studies and anthropology...Highly recommended.

M. Cedar Face Southern Oregon University, CHOICE Magazine