There is always new research being done in the vast field of anthropology and many resources for learning more about it.
Here are some recent discoveries and research in cultural anthropology that might make good research paper topics.
Vikings in Canada
One aspect of anthropology to write about is discoveries about past societies. An artifact found fifty years ago was discovered to be evidence of Vikings in North America. Dated to about 1000 C.E., a stone container found on Baffin Island in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut near Greenland, contains bits of bronze and melted glass. It was used as a crucible for high-temperature nonferrous metalworking, probably to make small tools or ornaments.
Since native Canadians at the time did not practice this type of metalwork, researchers attribute the artifact to Norse and northern Europeans who traveled to North America possibly looking for fur and walrus ivory. “The crucible adds an intriguing new element to this emerging chapter in the early history of northern Canada,” said lead author Dr. Patricia Sutherland in the article, “Evidence of Viking/Norse metalworking in Arctic Canada,” posted December 15, 2014, in ScienceDaily.com.
Role of Ecuador midwives in healthcare
Another topic for your anthropology research paper could be the clash between modern and indigenous practices. For example, the intrusion of modern health practices and state-provided healthcare has reduced the role of traditional and indigenous midwives. Despite healthcare reform and the government’s declared commitment to indigenous rights, the Ministry of Public Health’s attempt to provide intercultural health options has not been smooth. Specifically, the ministry has been working with Kichwa midwives (the Asocio) in the Upper Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Midwives offer options for vertical birth, which is believed to reduce the need for cesarean sections, and natural childbirth, yet the midwives do not feel they are equal contributors to the healthcare system. They also believe that the state is appropriating and exploiting their cultural practices. One midwife said: “We are afraid to share our ideas (with biomedical providers and government officials)…we share what we know and then after they have this knowledge, they don’t need us anymore… and we are left behind,” in the article, “Kichwa Midwives Challenge State Commitment to Indigenous Rights,” written by Heather Wurtz in Anthropology News.
Anthropologists and cultural bias
Another good topic is to discuss why anthropologists should never let their prejudices or biases influence their research. In the 2014 book, A Society of Young Women: Opportunities of Place, Power, and Reform in Saudi Arabia, Amelie Le Renard describes how Saudi society is slowly offering more freedom to women amid its very strict conservative requirements for women. Women still cannot drive, malls have segregated women-only floors and women are expected to cover themselves in public spaces.
This is why Le Renard urges Westerners not to use their stereotypes of what freedom is for Saudi society. Such views “neglect the role of the state, urbanization, and capitalist globalization, which have shaped and are shaping the modalities of Saudi women’s access to public spaces. Second, the focus only on what Saudi women lack fails to consider the specific organization of spaces, lifestyles, and gender norms produced by the particular limits placed on mobility,” said Le Renard.
Resources for information on anthropology
- Anthropology News, www.anthropology-news.org – publication of the American Anthropological Association with news in the field, trends in research, webinars and commentary.
- AnthroSource – www.aaanet.org/publicaions/anthrosource/index.cfm – a service of the American Anthropological Association offers members access to a digital searchable database containing AAA journals, newsletters, bulletins and monographs.
- SIRIS: Smithsonian Archives, www.siris-archives.si.edu – archives and libraries of the Smithsonian with information on anthropological records, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and films.
- Department of Anthropology Collections Database, www.collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/anth/ – access to catalog records for archaeology and ethnology collections, with information about objects (their identification, place of collection and cultural attribution) and images of objects.
Check out Questia’s library on Sociology and Anthropology for more research topics.
What are some other topics in anthropology that would make a good research paper?