The primary objective of the Cultural Anthropology Program is to support basic scientific research on the causes, consequences and complexities of human social and cultural variability.
Contemporary cultural anthropology is an arena in which diverse research traditions and methodologies are valid in investigations of human cultural variation. Recognizing the breadth of the field's contributions to science, the Cultural Anthropology Program welcomes proposals for empirically grounded, theoretically engaged and methodologically sophisticated research in all sub-fields of cultural anthropology. Because the National Science Foundation's mission is to support basic research, the NSF Cultural Anthropology Program does not fund research that takes as its primary goal improved clinical practice, humanistic understanding or applied policy. A proposal that applies anthropological methods to a social problem but does not propose how that problem provides an opportunity to make a theory-testing and/or theory-expanding contribution to anthropology will be returned without review.
Program research priorities include, but are not limited to, research that increases our understanding of:
- Sociocultural drivers of critical anthropogenic processes such as deforestation, desertification, land cover change, urbanization and poverty.
- Resilience and robustness of sociocultural systems.
- Scientific principles underlying conflict, cooperation and altruism, as well as explanations of variation in culture, norms, behaviors and institutions.
- Economy, culture, migration and globalization.
- Variability and change in kinship and family norms and practices.
- General cultural and social principles underlining the drivers of health outcomes and disease transmission.
- Biocultural work that considers the nexus of human culture and its relationship with human biology.
- Social regulation, governmentality and violence.
- Origins of complexity in sociocultural systems.
- Language and culture: orality and literacy, sociolinguistics and cognition.
- Theoretically-informed approaches to co-production in relation to scientific understandings of human variability and environmental stewardship.
- Mathematical and computational models of sociocultural systems such as social network analysis, agent-based models, multi-level models, and modes that integrate agent-based simulations and geographic information systems (GIS).
As part of its effort to encourage and support projects that explicitly integrate education and basic research, CA provides support to enhance and improve the conduct of doctoral dissertation projects designed and carried out by doctoral students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education who are conducting scientific research that enhances basic scientific knowledge.