Anthropology Essay Topics

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This list of 100+ anthropology essay topics provides a great variety of ideas for anthropology essays. Anthropology as a discipline is concerned with human diversity. In its most inclusive conception, this is what brings together the four fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.

Subfields of Anthropology Essay Topics

Cultural Anthropology
Biological Anthropology
Linguistic Anthropology

Neighboring Disciplines Essay Topics

Anthropology and Evolution
History and Anthropology
Genetics and Anthropology
Sociology and Anthropology
Paleontology and Anthropology
Psychology and Anthropology

Applied Anthropology Essay Topics

Bioethics and Anthropology
Business and Anthropology
Cconomic Anthropology
Clinical Anthropology
Ecology and Anthropology
Economics and Anthropology
Ethics and Anthropology
Forensic Anthropology
History of Anthropology
Human Rights and Anthropology
Justice and Anthropology
Law and Anthropology
Political Anthropology
Society and Anthropology
Visual Anthropology

Archaeology Essay Topics

Archaeology and Gender Studies
Archaeology of War
Architectural Anthropology
Biblical Archaeology
Copper Age
Environmental Archaeology
Indus Civilization
Iron Age
Maritime Archaeology
Medieval Archaeology
Mesolithic Cultures
Mesopotamian Civilization
Mummies and Mummification
Neolithic Cultures
Pottery and Ceramics
Salvage Archaeology
Sumerian Civilization
Tools and Evolution

Biological Anthropology Essay Topics

Ape communication
Biological Adaptation
Bipedal locomotion
Evolution of Primate Brain
Fossil Apes
Homo erectus
Homo ergaster
Homo habilis
Homo sapiens
Human diversity
Human Evolutioin
Human Genetics
Humans and dinosaurs
Orangutan-human evolution
Population explosion
Twin studies

Cultural Anthropology Essay Topics

Cultural Adaptation
Agricultural Revolution
Ape Sulture
Childhood Studies
Cross-Cultural research
Cultural conservation
Cultural constraints
Cultural convergence
Cultural ecology
Cultural relativism
Cultural traits
Culture and personality
Culture area concept
Culture change
Social structures

Linguistic Anthropology Essay Topics

Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
Ape Language
Computer Languages
Ethnographic Writing
Global Language
Historical Linguistics
Language and Biology
Language and Culture
Linguistic Reconstruction
Myths and Mythology
Oral Literature
Orality and Anthropology
Origin of Language
Paralinguistic Communication
Types of Language
Universals in Language
Vanishing Languages

In all its varying shapes, in space and over time, anthropology has tended to straddle conventional academic classifications of disciplines. In its scope of subject matter – for example, family and kinship, politics, and market and exchange, on the one side, and art, music, and dance, on the other – it extends across the social sciences and the humanities. Insofar as it has to take into account the biological givens of human thought and action, and inquires into the interactions of humankind with its natural environment, it reaches into the natural sciences as well. But its multiple affiliations are not only a consequence of its varied subject matter. They are also implied in the variety of intellectual approaches: in field research, in theoretical work, and in styles of presentation. In what ways, or to what extent, anthropology is an art or a science continues to be a matter of lively internal debate.

In many ways the enduring characteristics of anthropology, throughout this range of forms, continue to be expressions of the concern with diversity – with the highly varied manners of being human. To the global public stock of ideas, it brings such notions as taboo, witchcraft, cargo cults, totemism, or the potlatch exchange feasts of Northwest Coast American Indians. Concepts such as ‘Big man’ (out of Melanesia), ‘patron–client relationships’ (not least out of the Mediterranean area), or ‘caste’ (out of India), allowed to travel out of their areas of origin, can enrich our thinking about power, politics, and inequality in many contexts. There is a rich intellectual universe here, to be drawn on within the discipline and from outside it. And anthropology has its classic preoccupations, such as ritual or kinship, concerning which new materials about yet more variations are continuously gathered worldwide, and around which theoretical debates never seem to cease.

At the same time, anthropology goes on reconfiguring itself. One might perhaps have thought that a discipline revolving around the diversity of human forms of life and thought would find itself in difficulty at a time when increasing global interconnectedness may lead to cultural homogenization, and a loss of local or regional cultural forms. Indeed, it is true that many people in the world no longer stick to the beliefs they used to hold, and are discarding some of their past practices, ranging from spirit possession to headhunting. In part, the responsibility of anthropology here becomes one of preserving a record of the ways of humans, past and present, and keeping that record alive by continuing to scrutinize it, interpret it, and bring it to bear on new developments.

It is also true, however, that diversity is not diminishing as much as some, perhaps fairly superficial, views of globalization might suggest. Traditions may be remarkably resilient, adapting to new influences and absorbing them in various ways; there may be more than one ‘modernity.’ Moreover, new interconnections may generate their own social and cultural forms, so that there may be cultural gain as well as cultural loss. A growing interest in anthropology with such notions as hybridity and creolization bears witness to this. In addition, however, anthropology has continuously expanded the field of social and cultural variations with which it has actively engaged. As the discipline was practiced in the earlier decades of the twentieth century, one might have discerned a tension between, on the one hand, the ambitious claims of offering a view of humanity, and, on the other hand, the actual concentration on villages of horticulturalists, bands of hunter-gatherers, or other exotic and small-scale sociocultural arrangements. But then by the mid-twentieth century, there was an increasing involvement with peasant societies, and the civilizations of which they were a part, and later yet urban anthropology appeared as another subdiscipline, practiced in field settings in every region. In recent times, the anthropology of science has been another growing specialization, as the practices of scientists are scrutinized as yet another kind of cultural constructs, and as laboratories are added to the range of possible sites of fieldwork. It appears, consequently, that the enduring wider claims of the discipline to an overall engagement with human modes of thought and action are increasingly being realized.

Obviously, in many of its fields of interest, anthropologists now mingle with scholars from a variety of other backgrounds, and the division of labor between disciplines here may not seem obvious. Undoubtedly, there are blurred boundaries as well as cross-fertilization, but anthropologists would emphasize the intellectual potential of a conceptual apparatus trained on, and informed by a knowledge of, a great variety of cultural assumptions and institutional arrangements. There is also the commitment to close-up observation of the relationships between human words and deeds, and the strain toward understanding ‘wholes,’ which, despite its vagueness, may usefully involve a particular commitment to contextualization as well as skills of synthesis.

Anthropologists now find themselves at work in a global ecumene of increasing, and increasingly polymorphous, interconnectedness. This is a time in which that diversity of social and cultural forms with which they are preoccupied is constantly as well as rapidly changing, and where new social, political, economic, and legal frameworks encompassing and rearranging that diversity are emerging. More people may have access to a larger part of the combined human cultural inventory than ever before; conversely, whether one likes it or not, more of that cultural diversity can also come in one’s way. This is also a time when debates over the limits of diversity are coming to new prominence, for different reasons. Evolutionary biologists are setting forth new views of human nature that need to be carefully confronted with understandings of cultural variation. As people sense that they live together in one world, questions also arise over what is, or should be, shared humanity, for example, in the area of human rights. There would seem to be a place in the public life of this era for a cosmopolitan imagination that both recognizes diversity and seeks the ground rules of a viable and humane world society. For such a cosmopolitan imagination, one would hope, anthropology could continue to offer materials and tools.


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