Specifics of Writing Anthropology Papers

Although the discipline of “anthropology” implies studying humanity in general (“anthropos” means “man, human” in Greek), there are, in fact, many directions in which this science has developed. In particular, there is physical anthropology, which studies biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their extinct predecessors (neanderthalis, for example), and the representatives of the animal world that are close to humans, such as primates. There is sociocultural anthropology (which falls into such subfields as ethnography, social anthropology, and cultural anthropology), the main task of which is to research the ways in which culture affects society in general, and its representatives in particular—their customs, traditions, experiences, behaviors, and so on. There is also linguistic anthropology, which studies the ways language structures define behaviors and the everyday life of certain groups of people. There are, in fact, many other categories anthropology falls into. Naturally, writing a paper on anthropology is not an easy task.

In order to write a research paper in anthropology, or an anthropology essay, or any other kind of paper within this discipline, a student must first understand within which of the fields he or she wants to work. This alone significantly narrows down the scope of the search, be it the search of an appropriate topic, sources, materials, or other means needed to accomplish the assignment. The rest is pretty much the same as writing any other paper: one needs to formulate a hypothesis; support or refute it with appropriate arguments, ground their work on factual information such as statistics, observations, results of previous studies, and so on; and, finally, round up the paper with a clear and relevant conclusion.

Considering the number of subfields anthropology falls into, the variety of anthropology research paper topics and anthropology essay topics one can choose from can be confusing. However, if a student follows the aforementioned recommendation to choose the field first, and then define the topic itself, it can make the choice much easier. For example, if a student is majoring in cultural anthropology, he or she might want to write a paper on such topics as, “The history and cultural significance of African masks,” “Aboriginal taboos and their role in regulation of social life of primitive societies,” “Mesopotamia as the cradle of human civilization, and the echoes of Mesopotamian culture in the modern age,” gestures in eastern and western cultures,” and so on. If a student’s chosen field is linguistic anthropology, topics for anthropology essays may sound like, “The development of the French language in former colonies during the post-colonial era,” “The influence of mass media on the development of modern English language,” “The correspondence between gender and spoken language in modern Asian languages (with the examples of Chinese and Japanese languages)”, “Slang as a distinctive sign of belonging to a certain social group,” and so on. Or, if a student wants to write an anthropology paper in the field of physical anthropology, his/her topic might sound like, “The evolution of viruses and other pathogens with the development of antibiotics,” “The similarities and differences in the reactions of primates and humans to similar stressful situations,” and so on.

As it can be seen, the number of topics to choose from is significant. However, these, as well as many other topics, should be first discussed with an instructor before writing a paper.

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