anthropology research subfields

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Part 1: Research Topics and Subfields (10 points)

For each research topic listed below, identify whether or not cultural anthropology would be interested in this research topic.

Provide a brief (three-four sentences) summary to justify WHY it would or would not fall into cultural anthropology. [I recommend making sure your justifications go beyond surface level identification. For example, “because it deals with culture” is not a justification reason for cultural anthropology.]

  1. Excavating and analyzing pottery and animal bone fragments from a midden at a prehistoric Native American site in Southwestern Wyoming.
  2. The religious beliefs of those living in Accra results in the utilization of both biomedical and spiritual healing modalities.
  3. The fluctuations in food sources along the paths used by Tuareg herdman represent one factor influencing the switch to new migration paths.
  4. Testing a hypothesis on the factors used by female ring-tailed lemurs of Madagascar to select mates.
  5. Exploring how current day San Bushmen utilize their environmental surroundings for food gathering.
  6. Using DNA from barley and wheat seeds to explore the origins of plant domestication during the Neolithic period
  7. Identifying barriers existing between the United Nations health care workers and a local West African population during the Ebola outbreak

Dr. Martin’s Example – Focus on Archaeology rather than Cultural Anthropology

Research Topic: Symbols of bird species on a stone wall of a past house structure in Australia

Identification of Subfield and Explanation: An archaeologist would be interested in this research topic. I believe this research topic falls into the realm of archaeology because of the statement “past house structure.” As noted in Chapter 1, archaeologists examine material remains of past populations and I believe that the remaining pieces of past house structures represents a form of material remains; however, I am not sure if it would be considered an artifact because house structures can be very large. Regardless, archaeologists would be interested in the symbols of the different bird species on this piece of material remain from Australia’s past.

Part 2: Hypothesis Testing (10 points)

Respond to the following prompts using Statement #3 from Part 1

  • Imagine you are a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on this statement. Create a listing of the type of methods you might use to gather data. Be specific in terms of suggesting interview questions, how participant observation might ‘look’, or what other types of technology might be helpful in testing this hypothesis.
  • Using this the list you created, categorize the potential data from these methods into qualitative and quantitative areas. Provide an explanation for WHY you categorized these into either qualitative or quantitative.
  • Need help? See the example listed under Class Topic: Culture and Fieldwork

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