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ANT 112- Exploring Non-Western Cultures (Wallace): Getting Started

"Follow Your Own Path" Semester Research Project

Balinese Dancer Balinese dancer, Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Asia. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest.

Welcome to the Semester Research Project!

This assignment is your opportunity to "follow your own path," and explore a topic more deeply in different cultures. Let's get started!

Your journey of exploration is to compare and contrast a specific topic, in two different cultures. You will select ONE topic from the list below (or propose your own from the textbook), and select TWO cultures, following the guidelines below. You will also be selecting and applying two anthropological concepts from the assigned textbook to help you analyze your topic in each cultural setting. 

While the topic might be (often is) an anthropological concept, this is different than the requirement to use the two anthropological concepts to elaborate your paper. 

This type of analysis is part of the cross-cultural approach used by anthropologists: As we see similarities between lifeways in different cultures, we also see what makes each culture unique. 

There are two parts to this assignment, due in two different modules (check the Schedule of Work for due dates):

  • Module 2: Semester Research Project Proposal

  • Module 4: Semester Research Project Essay


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Kris Swank
(She, Her)
NW Campus Library


Semester Research Project: Instructions for Module 2

Module 2: Proposal

How do professional anthropologists “follow their own path” when starting original research? They begin by creating a proposal outlining the type of research they want to pursue when they do field work.

The Semester Research Project Study Proposal is your first step in the Semester Research Project assignment. Check the Schedule of Work for the due date.


  • Choose ONE topic and TWO cultural groups, and two anthropological concepts from the Anthropological Concepts Study Guide.
      • The Study Guide has information on concepts, including definitions, and specific chapters where concepts are discussed.

  • You are welcome to choose non-Western /Indigenous groups, topics, and anthropological concepts other than those on the list provided, but you must email your instructor for approval.
  • Conduct preliminary research on the topic, cultural groups, concepts, and outside scholarly resources. See your librarian for research help, and consult the textbook for the concepts.

  • Write a 150-word Proposal on the topic, two cultural groups, two anthropologocal concepts, and one outside source you are proposing for your Semester Research Project. 

The Proposal assignment should include:  

  1. Introduction and description of the topic and two cultural groups. 
  2. Introduction and definitions of the two anthropological concepts. Be sure to use the definitions from the course textbook. For suggestions, see the Anthropological Concepts Study Guide
  3. One scholarly outside source you will use in your research, listed in the Bibliography/Works Cited. (The final essay will require six outside sources.) 
  4. Bibliography or References List at the end of the essay.
  • Remember to use in-text citations for your sources in the body of your Proposal.
  • Remember to use grammar and spell-check!


Save your work as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file only. Other formats might not transmit and cannot be guaranteed on time or graded. Submit this assignment in the “Proposal: Semester Research Project” Assignment Folder in our website.

List of Topics

Choose ONE Topic:

  • The human right to water: Water rights and water sovereignty/governance for Indigenous Peoples
  • Food insecurity and food sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples
  • Issues of representation: In museums, social media, films, etc.
  • Cultural appropriation: Think broadly here: music, art, spiritual heritage, etc.; consider also appropriation or appreciation
  • Ethnomedicine: Practices or applications; consider also justice and/or appropriation
  • Ethnobotany: Practices or applications; consider also justice and/or appropriation
  • Ethnomusicology: Practices or applications; consider also  justice and/or appropriation
  • Local impacts of global climate change
  • Genocide, ethnocide, ecocide (choose cultures you did not choose for Writing Assignment 3)


Choose TWO Cultural Groups: Please think broadly here!

  • Choose TWO groups to compare and contrast:  one historically-marginalized cultural group within the U.S.; and one from outside the U.S.; and include a specific location for each one.

  • What do we mean by “historically marginalized groups”?

    • According to the Pima Community College Curriculum Department and General Education Committee, "’historically marginalized groups’ encompasses categories such as gender (e.g. women, men, transgender), sexuality (e.g. lesbians, gays, bisexuals), racial, ethnic, religious, age-related, and/or linguistic groups (e.g. Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans/First Peoples, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans), and/or other emerging cultural subgroups.”

  • Remember: 

    • Choose one ’historically marginalized group’ within the U.S. 

The explanation above includes examples for the U.S. If you would like to choose another group, please speak with the instructor to make sure your choice fits the requirements of the course. 

    • Choose one ’historically marginalized group’ from outside the U.S.

You are encouraged to think broadly here, and focus on a Non-Western cultural group you would like to learn more about! Please speak with the instructor if you have questions or concerns, or to make sure your choice fits the requirements of the course. 

Anthropological Concepts

"Anthropological concepts" are ideas we use in anthropology that help us understand what we see -- like ritual, tribe, gender, etc.

Use the definition and theory of the concept from the textbook (and other sources provided in the course materials) to understand and analyze the topic you choose.

See the Anthropological Concepts Study Guide for definitions – all collected for you in one place.

Semester Research Project: Instructions for Module 4

Module 4: Essay


As you research and collect information about the topic and the cultural groups you chose for your Proposal, remember to locate SIX scholarly resources, in addition to your textbook, to supplement your information and knowledge. These should be professional or academic sources.


Write a 1500-word essay (no more than 1750 words), on the topic and two cultural groups you have proposed and researched.

  • Include at least 7 internal citations within your essay (with at least one from each of your sources: your textbook and six outside sources), in support of your explanations. So this means:
    • Use your Perspectives textbook as ONE of your sources. This will be good for your anthropological concepts! 

      Use THREE outside sources for the ’historically marginalized group’ within the U.S. 

    • Use THREE outside sources for the ’historically marginalized group’ outside the U.S.

    • Quotations should be 10 words or less.

The essay assignment should include:  

1. Introduction: In your opening paragraph, introduce the topic and the two cultures you are studying. Include in-text citations for your sources.

a. Introduce the topic. 

b. State the names and geographic locations of the two cultural groups you are studying for your cross-cultural analysis.

c. Explain why you chose the topic and the cultural groups.

d. Introduce anthropological concepts. 

2. Exploration of the cultures and topic: This is the heart of your essay! It is a detailed discussion of the specific topic you have chosen, in each of the cultures in your research project. Support and document your findings with citations from your sources. Address the following areas in your essay, to share what  you have learned during your research.  

a. Exploration of the cultures and the topic.

1. Introduce the first culture you have studied for this assignment, and explain how they incorporate aspects of the topic you are studying into their lifeways.

2. Introduce the second culture you are studying, and explain how they incorporate aspects of the topic you are studying into their lifeways. 

b.  Application of anthropological concepts -- these should be woven into your information on each of the cultures (not "tacked on" at the end).  

Explain and apply the anthropological concepts you have chosen, and use them to help define and analyze how your topic is incorporated into the lifeways of each culture. For example, how does an understanding of gender shed light on the ways people create and incorporate coming of age ceremonies in these cultures? Be sure to use an in-text citation from your textbook for each concept.  

c. Cross-cultural analysis.

Compare AND contrast the way specific aspects of the topic are incorporated in each culture. For example, each group may have a coming of age ritual, but the rituals will be specific to each culture! Be sure to explain one similarity AND one difference between the two cultures. 

3. Conclusion: Reflect on your research, and think about future research!

a. Explain one way this cross-cultural analysis has deepened your appreciation for the uniqueness of each culture or the topic in your essay. 

b. Discuss the cultural and anthropological relevance of your research. 

c. Describe one new area you would like to explore in your cross-cultural analysis. Explain how that would broaden your knowledge of the cutures or their lifeways. 

4. Bibliography or References List at the end of the essay.


  • Your essay should be a minimum of 1500 words (no more than 1,750 words), double-spaced. Include the word count after the last sentence in the paper for only the body of the paper. Don't count the words in the heading, title or Works Cited/Bibliography. Remember, the assignment is graded for word count, not page length.
  • Type your full name and “Semester Research Project” at the top of the first page.
  • Include a Works Cited or Bibliography. Be sure to use full bibliographic references for all sources, including websites, formatted according to the citation style you have chosen.
  • Remember to proofread and edit for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use the spell and grammar check!


Save your work as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file only. Other formats might not transmit and cannot be guaranteed on time or graded. Submit this assignment in the “Semester Research Project” Assignment Folder in our website.