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Cultural Anthropology

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 23-581 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


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. Anthropological research spans a wide gamut, and contemporary cultural anthropology is an arena in which diverse research traditions and methodologies are valid. 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 mandate is to support basic research, the NSF Cultural Anthropology Program does not fund research that takes as its primary goal improved clinical practice or applied policy. Program research priorities include, but are not limited to, research that increases our understanding of:

  • Socio-cultural drivers of critical anthropogenic processes such as deforestation, desertification, land cover change, urbanization, and poverty
  • Resilience and robustness of socio-cultural systems
  • Conflict, cooperation, and altruism
  • Economy, culture, migration, and globalization
  • Variability and change in kinship and family norms and practices
  • Cultural and social contexts of health and disease
  • Social regulation, governmentality, and violence
  • Origins of complexity in socio-cultural systems
  • Language and culture: orality and literacy, sociolinguistics, and cognition
  • Human variation through empirically grounded ethnographic descriptions
  • Mathematical and computational models of sociocultural systems such as social network analysis, agent-based models, and integration of agent-based models with geographic information systems (GIS)

A. General Research The Cultural Anthropology Program supports a broad portfolio of research by both senior scholars and by graduate students. Information on recent awards can be found at the bottom of this page via the "What Has Been Funded" link. All proposals must be submitted using either Fastlane (as described in the Grant Proposal Guide) or Grants.gov. All proposals must explicitly address both the Intellectual Merit and the Broader Impacts of the research in the one-page project summary.

  1. The Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (DDRIG) Program (see Solicitation 15-556) supports doctoral dissertation research by anthropology graduate students enrolled at U.S. institutions. Proposals are accepted for both the January 15 and the August 15 target dates. Grants are intended to support the extraordinary expenses of conducting research, not the normal daily expenses of graduate education. 

  2. Senior proposals support individual, team, or collaborative research by scholars who hold a PhD, or other equivalent or appropriate credential. Proposals are accepted for both the January 15 and the August 15 target dates. Senior proposal project descriptions may be up to 15, single-spaced pages. There is no ceiling on senior proposal budgets, but a typical award rarely exceeds $100,000 per year of the award, including indirect costs. Researchers may propose empirically grounded and theoretically engaged projects in any sub-field and theoretical area of cultural anthropology.

  3. General guidelines. All researchers should take care to explain very clearly why the research is needed; what it will contribute to the scientific understanding of human society and culture; and how it will lead to the development of theory extending beyond the particular cases to be investigated. They should be clear about the question or questions that the research is addressing; how the research design will address those questions; what information or data will be collected, how, and why; and how the information or data will be analyzed to address the research questions. Finally, researchers should also explain why they are able to conduct the research successfully. A good research proposal is interesting, clear, explicit, tightly integrated, and confidence inspiring.

B. Other Programs

  1. The Faculty Scholars Program (see Solicitation 07-544) supports methodological training for cultural anthropologists who wish to learn new skills that are needed as part of an ongoing research program. For example, support may be requested to learn new methods of cross-cultural research, demography, remote sensing and GIS, ecological field survey, linguistics, or modeling. Support may be requested to learn any methodological skill that is necessary to advance the scholar's research agenda, as justified in the proposal with reference to published results from prior work. Proposals are accepted for both the January 16 and the August 16 target dates. Normal proposal guidelines apply. Awards are for up to 12 months and for a maximum of $50,000.

  2. Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER). The RAPID funding mechanism is used for proposals having a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events. The EAGER funding mechanism may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. For detailed information concerning these two types of grants, please review Chapter II.D of the NSF Grant Proposal Guide. There are no deadlines or target dates associated with these types of awards and the Cultural Anthropology program funding for them is rarely more than $25,000 including indirect costs.

  3. Research Experience for Graduate Students (REG) and Reserch Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Supplements. Senior PIs with current NSF awards, may request supplements to support closely mentored but independent research projects by undergraduates intending to pursue graduate work in anthropology or graduate students at the pre-dissertation phase of their education. The supplemental request should include a two to three-page description of the project to be undertaken and a 1-2 page endorsement of the student, identifying the grounds for the student's selection as well as the PI's plans for mentoring the student. PIs are encouraged to submit proposals by March 1, each spring, although they will be considered at other times of the year by contacting the appropriate NSF Program Officer in advance. Awards are limited to $6,000 for REGs and $5,000 for REUs. See Dear Colleague Letter NSF 16-044 for detailed information on preparing Cultural Anthropology REG and REU Supplemental Funding Requests.

  4. Workshops. Workshops are sometimes needed to allow researchers to work together. Proposals for workshops with research goals may be submitted in the normal grant cycle (target dates: January 15 and August 15). Under exceptional circumstances and with prior permission from the Program Officer, workshop proposals may be considered out of cycle, as well.

  5. Training Programs. The Cultural Anthropology Program supports the dissemination of the most current research tools available for social science research. Consequently, as budget permits, the Cultural Anthropology Program funds a limited number of proposals for training workshops, short courses, and fieldwork programs, through the regular proposal review cycle. For more information, please contact the Program Officer.

  6. Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Grants. The Cultural Anthropology Program participates in this NSF-wide activity offering prestigious awards in support of the early development of academic faculty as both educators and researchers. Consult the CAREER solicitation for more information.

Program contacts

Jeffrey Mantz-Program Director
jmantz@nsf.gov (703) 292-7783 SBE/BCS
Deborah Winslow- Program Director
Program Director
dwinslow@nsf.gov (703) 292-7315
Kristin Kuyuk - REG/REU requests
Associate Program Manager
kkuyuk@nsf.gov (703) 292-4904 OD/OISE
Don Rimon-Program Specialist
drimon@nsf.gov (703) 292-2960 SBE/BCS

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program