Cultural Anthropology Research Paper Suggestions

Cultural anthropology -- the study of human societies and cultures and their origins, history, variation, and development . . . the comparative study of human culture in all aspects including social structure, language, law, politics, religion, magic, art, and technology.

Some suggested topics for your paper:

Note-- these instructions are for students taking the course during a regular semester, not the 5-week Bridge module course

See the course syllabus for detailed instructions on the research for and writing of this paper.

  1. A description of key points of a culture in which you are interested (a brief ethnography)
  2. An in-depth look at the concept of "worldview" or the comparison of the worldviews of two societies
  3. Religious beliefs or practices of a particular society
  4. Marriage/family in a particular group or comparison between societies
  5. Types of economic organization/systems
  6. Language acquisition
  7. The influence of language on culture
  8. Views about ancestors
  9. The role of women in a given society
  10. Doing fieldwork as an anthropologist
  11. The importance of cultural anthropology to the missionary . . . or to the business executive . . .or to the educator . . . or to the . . .
  12. Ethnocentrism and some tips on how to minimize it
  13. The idea of cultural baggage and how to minimize it
  14. Culture shock: What it is and how to best work through it

These topics are given to you as idea starters. You may use one of these or some adaptation of it or you may come up with a different topic that interests you more. Leafing through any introduction to cultural anthropology book may also stimulate your thinking in terms of a topic.

Ready for some cross-cultural humor?

NextMissionaries and other people working and living cross-culturally commit lots of little cultural errors that provide laughter for their hosts (and for themselves as well). [ more ]

    -- Howard Culbertson,


Here's an AI-generated list of research paper topic ideas for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology:

  1. Cultural Practices and Beliefs: Explore a specific cultural practice or belief system, such as rituals surrounding death, marriage customs, or coming-of-age ceremonies.
  2. Cultural Change and Adaptation: Investigate how cultures adapt to changing environments, technologies, or socio-political systems. This could include the impact of globalization, colonialism, or modernization on indigenous cultures.
  3. Language and Communication: Analyze the role of language in shaping cultural identity, social interaction, and worldview. This could involve studying language diversity, language revitalization efforts, or the impact of language on thought processes.
  4. Cultural Heritage and Preservation: Investigate efforts to preserve cultural heritage, including museums, cultural festivals, or indigenous rights movements aimed at protecting ancestral lands and traditions.
  5. Ethnicity and Identity: Explore how ethnicity is constructed and experienced in different cultural contexts, including issues of race relations, ethnic conflict, or identity politics.
  6. Religion and Spirituality: Examine the role of religion and spirituality in shaping cultural practices, social organization, and worldview. This could involve studying religious rituals, belief systems, or religious syncretism.
  7. Food and Culture: Investigate the cultural significance of food, including food rituals, culinary traditions, and the symbolic meanings attached to different types of cuisine.
  8. Art and Expression: Analyze the role of art, music, dance, and other forms of cultural expression in shaping identity, social cohesion, and resistance movements.
  9. Cross-Cultural Comparisons: Compare and contrast cultural practices, beliefs, or social institutions across different societies or regions. This could involve exploring similarities and differences in family structures, economic systems, or political organization.

Remember to choose a topic that interests you and aligns with the themes and concepts covered in your course. Additionally, consider the availability of research materials and resources to support your investigation.

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