The primary objective of the Cultural Anthropology Program is to support fundamental, systematic anthropological research and training to increase understanding of the causes, consequences and complexities of human social and cultural variability. The Cultural Anthropology Program welcomes proposals from researchers in all sub-fields of cultural anthropology and research at any temporal or spatial scale. Methodologies and approaches employed may include ethnographic field research, surveys, remote sensing, the collection of bio-markers, experimental research inside or outside of laboratory settings, archival research, the analysis of materials collections and extant data bases, mathematical and computational modeling and other research tools as appropriate for the proposed research. The overarching research goals should be to produce empirically grounded findings that will be generalizable beyond particular case studies and contribute to building a more robust anthropological science of human society and culture.
The National Science Foundation's mandate is to support basic scientific research. Basic research in cultural anthropology means theory-generating and theory-testing research that creates new knowledge about human culture and society. Therefore, the Cultural Anthropology Program cannot support research that takes as its primary objective improved clinical practice, applied policy or other immediate application. Research that seeks to advance scientific cultural anthropological theories in a way that advances use-inspired objectives may be supported, but the theory-advancing objectives must be clearly at the center of the proposal. A proposal to use anthropological methods and approaches only to find solutions to social, medical or other problems without specifically proposing to make a theory-testing or theory-expanding contribution to anthropological science will be returned without review.