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The field of anthropology offers a great multitude of interesting essay and research paper topics. This page lists the chosen 100 topics and groups them into broader thematic categories. It also provides links to sample anthropology research papers.

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Biological Anthropology Topics

  • Biological Anthropology
  • Hominid Descriptions
  • Human Brain
  • Human Adaptations
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Human Biocultural Diversity
  • Race and Racism
  • DNA and Genetic Engineering

Archaeology Topics

  • Archaeology
  • Excavation and Preservation
  • Artifacts, Burials, and Ruins
  • Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans
  • Technology

Sociocultural Anthropology Topics

  • Concept of Culture
  • Ethnography and Ethnology
  • Marriage and the Family
  • Kinship Systems
  • Political Organizations
  • Magic and Science
  • Shamanism
  • Witchcraft and Sorcery
  • Religions and Beliefs
  • Cosmology and Mythology
  • Peasant Societies
  • Food: Plants and Animals

Linguistics Topics

  • Linguistics
  • Communication and Symbolism
  • Storytelling
  • Mass Media and Anthropology

Applied Anthropology Topics

  • Applied Anthropology
  • Law and Anthropology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Paleopathology and Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Infectious Diseases and Anthropology

Methodology Topics

  • Dating Techniques
  • Interpreting Evidence
  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • Twin Studies

Temporal Frameworks Topics

  • Geology and Anthropology
  • Paleontology and Anthropology
  • Prehistoric Cultures
  • Ancient Civilizations
  • History and Anthropology

Theories in Anthropology Topics

  • Theoretical Anthropology
  • Ideology and Anthropology
  • Enlightenment and Secularism
  • Marxist Anthropology
  • Agency and Practice Theory
  • Open and Closed Societies
  • Culture and Personality
  • German Anthropology
  • Values and Anthropology
  • Human Excellence: Past and Present

Evolution Topics

  • Fossil Primates
  • Human Evolution
  • Culture Change
  • Social Evolution
  • Evolution: Science, Anthropology, and Philosophy
  • Evolution/Creation Controversy

Primate Topics

  • Primate Taxonomy
  • Primate Locomotion
  • Primate Behavior Studies
  • Primate Extinction and Conservation

Culture Studies Topics

  • Amazonia
  • Australian Aborigines
  • Inuit
  • Iroquoian Peoples

Culture Areas Topics

  • Africa
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • India
  • Polynesia

Social Behavior Topics

  • Social Relationships
  • Rank, Status, and Role
  • Ceremonies
  • Festivals and Rituals
  • Music and Dance
  • Conflict and Aggression
  • Social Problems
  • Gangs
  • Deviant Behavior
  • Delinquency
  • Violence and Warfare

Modern Anthropology Topics

  • Folk Concepts
  • Migration and Globalization
  • Globalization
  • Education and Anthropology
  • History and Literature in Anthropology
  • Women and Anthropology
  • Visual Anthropology
  • Computers and Anthropology
  • Health and Illness

Ongoing Issues in Anthropology

  • Sociobiology: Nature and Nurture
  • Psychology and Anthropology
  • IQ: Viewpoints and Controversies
  • Human Longevity and World Population
  • Environmental Issues
  • Human Ecology
  • Feminist Anthropology
  • Terrorism
  • Human Rights and Dignity

Anthropology is the study, analysis, and description of humanity’s past and present. Questions about the past include prehistoric origins and human evolution. Study of contemporary humanity focuses on biological and cultural diversity, including language. Compared to other disciplines that address humanity such as history, sociology, or psychology, anthropology is broader in two ways. In terms of humanity’s past, anthropology considers a greater depth of time. In terms of contemporary humans, anthropology covers a wider diversity of topics than other disciplines, from molecular DNA to cognitive development and religious beliefs.

This depth and breadth correspond to the wide variety of sites and contexts in which anthropologists conduct research. Some anthropologists spend years in harsh physical conditions searching for fossils of early human ancestors. Others live among and study firsthand how people in Silicon Valley, California, for example, work, organize family life, and adapt to a situation permeated by modern technology. Anthropologists may conduct analyses in a laboratory studying how tooth enamel reveals an individual’s diet, or they may work in a museum, examining designs on prehistoric pottery. Yet other anthropologists observe chimpanzees in the wild.

Research methods in anthropology range from scientific to humanistic. In the scientific mode, anthropologists proceed deductively. They formulate a hypothesis, or research question, and then make observations to see if the hypothesis is correct. This approach generates both quantitative (numeric) data and qualitative (descriptive) data. In the humanistic approach, anthropologists proceed inductively, pursuing a subjective method of understanding humanity through the study of people’s art, music, poetry, language, and other forms of symbolic expression. Anthropologists working in the humanistic mode avoid forming a hypothesis, and they rely on qualitative information.

No matter whether it is conducted in a rainforest settlement or a university laboratory, or pursued from a scientific or a humanistic perspective, research in anthropology seeks to produce new knowledge about humanity. Beyond generating knowledge for its own sake, anthropology produces findings of relevance to significant contemporary issues. Knowledge in anthropology is of value to government policy makers, businesses, technology developers, health care providers, teachers, and the general public.

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