Anthropology Research Papers

This collection is meant to feature more than 100 research papers on anthropology (Browse all research paper examples). Since its emergence as a scientific discipline in the middle of the 19th century, anthropology has focused on the study of humankind in terms of science and reason, as well as logical speculation. Within a comprehensive and interdisciplinary framework, anthropology aims for a better understanding of and proper appreciation for the place of our species within earth history and organic development. As such, the scientific theory of biological evolution has been indispensable for giving meaning and purpose to the awesome range of empirical facts and conceptual insights that now constitute the rich content of present-day anthropology. Furthermore, cross-cultural studies emphasize the vast differences among human groups from the perspectives of material culture, social behavior, languages, and worldviews.

Today, after about 150 years, the discipline of anthropology is as active and relevant as ever. Incorporating the ongoing advances in science and technology, students in anthropology find no lack of engaging anthropology topics for research papers. There is the challenge and need to study and protect endangered nonhuman primates, to continuously search for fossil hominid specimens and hominid-made stone artifacts, and to comprehend the many complex relationships between our biocultural species and its dynamic environment. Moreover, research in anthropology has been very instrumental in increasing human tolerance for the biological variations and cultural differences that exist within the hundreds of societies that comprise our global species. As a new research area, applied anthropology strives to be relevant in this civilized but converging world (e.g., the emergence of forensic anthropology and biomedical anthropology).

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Research Paper on Environmental Issues

This sample research paper on environmental issues feature: 6700+ words (23 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 39 sources. Outline I. Introduction II. Cultural Beliefs and the Environment III. Theory and the Environment A. Social Construction and the Environment B. Social Construction and Social Movements C. Political Economy and the Environment IV. Environmental Issues: Method and Application V. Risk Perception and Environmental Health VI. Environmental Movements A. Mobilization Around Toxic Waste Sites: Love Canal VI. Conclusion I. Introduction Environmental issues can be discussed within a number of different contexts. For anthropology and sociology, culture and society become important factors in understanding environmental issues. By incorporating a perspective that includes environmental history, aspects of environmental change, dialogue and culture, and future concerns, a more complete understanding of the relationship between sociocultural actions and the natural environment can be developed. In an effort to understand the nature of environmental problems, one must develop an understanding of the cultural paradigms that guide human behavior and interaction with the natural environment. Many perspectives seek to explain this relationship. Social scientists look toward dialogue and cultural perspectives to trace the history of environmental concern. Historically, humans have understood their role to be one of dominion over nature. This is explained in numerous classic works and referenced in many religious and spiritual texts as well (Bell, 2008; Dunlap & Mertig, 1992). Cultural paradigms exist that serve to guide our interactions with the environment. Most stem from the anthropocentric belief that the world is centered around people and that human society has the right to maintain dominion over nature. Structural beliefs provide the foundation of these understandings. II. Cultural Beliefs and the Environment The belief that a free market system provides the greatest good for the greatest number of people leads us to place economic decision-making processes in private hands. Frequently, private decisions have public consequences, but these public consequences are not accounted for in production costs or covered by market costs. Instead, the costs are passed on to consumers in the form of taxes and higher base prices for goods and services. Esteemed environmentalists Al Gore Jr. and Robert Kennedy Jr. have argued that if the external costs of production were assumed by manufacturers, then the ultimate benefit would be a system that accounted for waste created in the production process. This is evident in their research on global warming. Coal-fired power plants are promoted as one of the cheapest forms of creating energy. This is misleading, because the health effects of pollution caused by coal are not included in the costs of production. Others argue that those costs would have to be passed on to the consumer. However, they are passed on now in the way of pollution and medical expenses for illnesses associated with environmental contaminants. Coal is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, thus leading to the overall societal costs of global warming. Another cultural belief is that the natural world is inexhaustible. Extraction of natural resources happens at an […]

Research Paper on Human Ecology

This sample research paper on human ecology features: 7800+ words (26 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 46 sources. Outline I. Introduction II. Theory III. Adaptation A. Case Study IV. The Earth in Space V. Systems VI. Energy VII. Diversity A. Case Study VIII. Overpopulation A. Case Study IX. Future Directions I. Introduction While researching for this research paper on human ecology, the author perused books and articles about ecology, biology, geography, and anthropology; human ecology uses all these disciplines, and more, toward its own end. Human ecology refuses to condense its focus into one approach; it investigates many approaches to a problem. This investigation method involves all the above mentioned disciplines. However, because its focus is so broad, no one agrees on a concrete definition of human ecology. In an attempt to reveal its definition, this article describes theories, research, and case studies in this field. II. Theory What happens when the two words composing human ecology are defined separately and then combined?A common definition for human is “a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens): man” (Mish, 2004). Such a definition is easy to understand in nearly any context, but defining ecology may prove more difficult. Levine et al. collect various definitions in the introduction to their book, Human Ecology (1975). For example, German biologist Ernest Haeckel defines ecology as “the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature—the investigation of the total relation of the animal both to its organic and inorganic environment” (Levine et al., 1975, p. 1). American ecologist Eugene Odum defines ecology as “the study of the structure and function of nature” (p. 1). These definitions are great abstractions of the word ecology; but what is the simple dictionary definition? Ecology is “a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments” (Mish, 2004). If human ecology is interpreted as literally the ecology of humans, then, logically, it is the study of relationships between humans and their environments. Is this definition too base for science? Sargent defines human ecology as “man’s relationship to all systems of life” (1983, p. 3). Strictland and Ulijaszek, authors of Seasonality and Human Ecology (1993), define human ecology simply as “the study of interrelations that exist between individuals, populations and the ecosystems of which they are a part” (p. 1). Sociologist Robert E. Park felt human ecology was the study of processes or systems that develop to upset or align the biotic balance of equilibrium (1961, p. 29). There is a common theme among these mentioned definitions: relationships. Relationships are a large aspect of human ecology, but they do not constitute its entire scope of study. In his article, “Human Ecology and Interactional Ecology,” James Quinn (1940) examines four views of human ecology. The first is J. W. Bews’s vision of human ecology as an all inclusive science composed of sociology, psychology, geography, biology, and anthropology; the second is H. H. Barrows’s view of human ecology as synonymous with human geography; while the third sees human ecology […]

Research Paper on Feminist Anthropology

This sample research paper on feminist anthropology features: 6000+ words (22 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 93 sources. Outline I. Introduction II. Subverting Dominant Paradigms III. Universalizing or Particular Knowledge IV. Biological Essentialism or Social Construction V. Interpretive or Cultural Materialism VI. Culture and Political Economy or Experimental Ethnography VII. Conclusion I. Introduction This research paper critically reviews and discusses the emergence and maturation of feminist anthropological thought over the past three decades. The paper also examines the ways in which feminist anthropology has critiqued, rebuked, and theorized the metadiscipline of anthropology. Feminist anthropology has, from its academic beginnings, sought to subvert a number of difficulties that came to define the metadiscipline in the 20th century. Even while coming from multiple ideological viewpoints, feminist anthropologists have had several common themes through which to discuss and theorize the metadiscipline. These themes include, but are not restricted to, (1) correcting academic male bias in the ethnographic record, (2) developing an anthropology of women, (3) seriously discussing the oppression of women, (4) rediscovering women anthropologists of the 20th century, and (5) theorizing about gender relationships and their social meanings. In order to discuss the broad swath of feminist anthropology, it is necessary to move freely through the literature from the 1970s to the early 2000s; however, it is not the intention of the author to create a teleological survey of the literature. Instead, here is an overview of an ever-changing, ever-growing division of anthropology. II. Subverting Dominant Paradigms To accomplish the five above-stated goals, feminist anthropologists are influential in turning long-held notions of women’s lives and daily lived experience on their heads. Sociocultural dichotomies are among the many restrictive models used by the metadiscipline over the last 100 plus years. These dichotomies are those pairs that have been identified by anthropologists in the course of conducting fieldwork and reviewing and studying ethnology, and/or these pairs may have been conceived and applied as a result of personal experience. Under this category, I would include such pairs as female:male, nature:culture, domestic:public, raw:cooked, self:other, and so forth. In most cases, these pairs began their academic tenure as so-called intrinsic, universally constant, essential elements of all human beings. Upon “discovering” and defining these dichotomies, anthropologists began the process of commenting on the possible meanings. Of particular importance to feminist anthropology are the central, idealized subjects, “woman” and “man.” After reading and pondering over a wide variety of theoretical and ethnographic materials, this writer comes up with the same conclusion over and over again. That is, the only universally, biologically essential characteristic that is applied over and over again to human beings everywhere is that of woman:nature, or childbearing and the functions of women’s bodies. What is important in multiple cultural contexts, and how that specific definition is manipulated through both theoretical statements and “concrete facts,” is perhaps the major concern of feminist anthropological thought. Whether we are discussing foraging societies and household arrangements or the meaning of family in postmodern societies such as the United […]

Research Paper on Terrorism and Anthropology

This sample research paper on terrorism features: 6800+ words (22 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 12 sources. Outline I. Introduction II. Definition of Terrorism III. State-Sponsored Terrorism IV. Nonstate Actors: Their History, Goals, and Strategies V. Technology and Globalization VI. Terrorist Financing and Counterterrorism VII. Future Directions I. Introduction The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon were the first in a series of dramatic and destructive terrorist attacks in which Islamist extremists sought to coerce Western and pro-Western governments into changing at least some of their policies. Subsequently, there were major attacks in the United Kingdom, Spain, Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan by Islamist radicals. Thousands of people perished in the September 11 attacks alone, and hundreds died after trains were bombed in London and Madrid. These attacks made terrorism a front-and-center issue in the United States and Western Europe, but terrorism has been a major concern for many decades in many different parts of the world. Israel, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan, for example, have also experienced serious terrorist incidents since the mid- 1990s. Indeed, terrorism in various forms has existed for centuries. Perhaps the earliest organized terrorist movement was by the Zealots in the first century. The Zealots used public assassinations as a tactic for frightening Jewish residents into refusing to cooperate with the Roman occupiers of the Holy Lands. Terrorism was particularly widespread in 19th-century Europe. Anarchist and nationalist groups all resorted to violence against government officials and/or average citizens suspected of collaborating with the authorities. Anarchists sought to topple governments by killing key leaders—hoping that this would usher in an era of self-governance by the people themselves. Nationalists as far apart as Armenia (in the Ottoman Empire), Bosnia (in Austria-Hungary), and Ireland (in the British Empire) used violence against nonmilitary targets, including civilian infrastructure like the London subway, to do what the Zealots had attempted to do centuries earlier: compel an imperial power to withdraw and grant their territories independence. II. Definition of Terrorism It is ironic that despite the international concern over terrorism, the states of the world have been unable to agree on a single definition of the term. The primary reason is political. Some states believe that certain forms of violence should not be categorized as terrorism, merely because it suits their foreign policy interests, or because they believe that “Western” definitions of terrorism are hypocritical. This is particularly the case with the violence perpetrated by Palestinian groups against targets in Israel. Often these attacks consist of suicide bombings on Israeli streets or the firing of small rockets into Israeli villages from the Gaza strip. Arab states believe that these actions should be considered a legitimate form of resistance against an occupying power. (Israel occupied Gaza until recently and still occupies much of the West Bank.) Often this view is associated with the perception that Israel is not a legitimate state in the first place—despite the fact […]

Research Paper on Human Rights and Dignity

This sample research paper on human rights and dignity features: 8300+ words (25 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 34 sources. Outline I. Introduction II. Concepts of Rights III. Relationship Between Rights and Dignity IV. Concepts of Dignity V. Values of Rights and Dignity VI. History of Rights VII. History of Dignity VIII. Contemporary Concepts of Rights IX. Contemporary Concepts of Dignity X. Future Directions A. Animal Rights Versus Human Rights B. Human Dignity vs. Transhuman and Posthuman Dignity I. Introduction Human rights and dignity are central normative notions of contemporary politics as well as political and ethical theories. However, they have not had this role for a long period of time, as the main development of these concepts began only during the Age of Enlightenment. During the previous 60 years, their influence can be said to be of global importance. On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Yet, there are traces of both notions in ancient and medieval thought, and this research paper will trace their roots and historical development and make inferences concerning potential future challenges concerning them. II. Concepts of Rights Article I of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Human rights are subjective rights of individual human beings. Subjective rights are different from objective rights. Objective rights refer to the completeness of regulations within a legal system. Objective rights grant subjective ones. Subjective rights imply that individual human beings have the authority to do certain things within the system. The concept of human rights implies that all human beings, because of their being human, have certain rights and freedoms that are universal, inalienable, and indivisible. According to a stricter sense of the concept of human rights, they can be contrasted with civil rights. Civil rights are held by all citizens of a state and include rights that are not human rights, like the right to vote. Human rights are held by all human beings. However, civil rights are included in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the Czech jurist Karel Vasak (as he originally proposed in 1979), there are three generations of human rights. The first generation deals with liberty, and the rights in this generation are particularly civil in nature. Human rights in the second generation are related to equality, and their nature is primarily social, whereas the third generation rights go beyond the civil and the social and are mostly expressed in soft law declarations of international law. Libertarians are usually skeptical concerning human rights of the second and third generation, as they presume that these rights contain concealed paternalistic political goals. The term human rights came into existence at the beginning of the 19th century. However, as mentioned above, it […]