Anthropology Dissertation Topics

Anthropology Dissertation Topics

We have provided a selection of example anthropology dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.


If you are interested in the spoken word then maybe a dissertation based around language is a good idea! Take a look at some of our suggestions below:

Example language dissertation topic 1:

A study of the way in which language influences social life amongst Bengali immigrants within southern France.

Focusing on a growing ethnic minority within France, this dissertation embraces the study of linguistic anthropology and discusses the way in which languages (especially amongst refugees). Centring on issues of group membership, social identity and cultural representation this study will benefit from the undertaking of a range of primary interviews. Through so doing it will address issues of power, inequality and social change and how these are challenged and modified as interaction between ‘incomers’ and ‘French nationals’ increases through language, discourse and an appreciation of each other’s cultures.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Lawson, S. and Sachdev, I. (2004). ‘Identity, language use, and attitudes: Some Sylheti-Bangladeshi data from London, UK’. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, vol. 23(1), pp. 49-69.
  • Vertovec, S. (2011). ‘The cultural politics of nation and migration’. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 40, pp. 241-256.
  • Woolard, K.A. and Schieffelin, B.B. (1994). ‘Language ideology’. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 23, pp. 55-82.

Example language dissertation topic 2:

The rediscovery of a language and the renaissance of a culture

From the devolution question of the 1970s to the devolving of power in 1997, the country of Wales has enjoyed a cultural and linguistic renaissance. In addition to analysing the reaction of native Welsh to this cultural rebirth – through the conducting of primary interviews with cultural, political and civic leaders – this dissertation also looks at the effects that this renaissance has had upon the English living in Wales. In so doing it focuses on two particular groups: those English who live and work in Wales and those who own second homes within the principality. This is a dissertation that looks at shifting cultural meanings, acceptance of counter-cultures and changing social realities, and would ideally suit someone who also has a working knowledge of Welsh.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Coupland, N. (2003). ‘Sociolinguistic authenticities’. Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 7(3), pp. 417-431.
  • Piller, I. and Takahashi, K. (2006). ‘A passion for English: Desire and the language market’. In, Pavlenko, A., Bilingual minds: Emotional experience, expression and representation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, pp. 59-83.
  • Trosset, C. and Caulkins, D. (2001). ‘Triangulation and confirmation in the study of Welsh concepts of personhood’. Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 57(1), pp. 61-81.

Housing and Health

Whether it is the health care of a nation of the housing conditions of a community, this could be the subject for you! If you are not sure where to begin, maybe these examples could help:

Example housing and health dissertation topic 1:

Social change in the Congo with specific reference to housing and health care, 1960-2010.

Suggested as a topic primarily for Master’s level study (though the dates could be altered to enable its use at undergraduate level), this dissertation addresses key themes within sociocultural anthropology. Using participant observation (in the form of primary interviews with generation within the same family) as well as a thorough review of existing secondary literature this dissertation seeks to evaluate differing perceptions of health care and educational opportunities amongst peoples of the Mongo and Kongo tribes within the Congo over the last fifty years. In so doing, anthropological issues relating to the similarities and differences experienced between class, gender and class will be noted as well as those pertaining to individual tribal traditions.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Boeck, F. D. (2011). ‘Inhabiting ocular ground: Kinshasa’s future in the light of Congo’s spectral urban politics’. Cultural Anthropology, vol. 26(2), pp. 263-286.
  • Lewis, I.M. (2003). Social and cultural anthropology in perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Marris, P. (2005). Family and social change in an African city: A study of rehousing in Lagos (Vol. 16). London: Routledge.

Violence and Abuse

Though this is a destressing topic, it is a topic that needs to be researched. Violence and abuse could be a facsinating topic for your dissertation and is a popular choice.

Example violence and abuse dissertation topic 1:

Same-sex relationships, violence and desires: A Ukrainian case study

Using ethnographic fieldwork this dissertation explores violence between lesbian partners in the Ukraine. The Ukraine has been chosen as the focal point for this research because the ideas of romantic same-sex involvement defy prevailing social norms within the state and thus a paradigm exists both within the concept of such relationships within the state and within those relationships where violence is meted out by one partner against the other. In contextualising this study, this dissertation will look at social violence perpetrated against same-sex couples in the Ukraine, personal issues of jealousy, and infidelity, and the response of the Ukrainian government to the rise in same-sex relationship partnership violence and domestic abuse.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • O’Leary, K.D., Tintle, N., Bromet, E J. and Gluzman, S.F. (2008). ‘Descriptive epidemiology of intimate partner aggression in Ukraine’. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 43(8), pp. 619-626.
  • Shymko, S. (2011). ‘”Gay and Christian, is it possible?” Overcoming double discrimination in post-Soviet Ukraine’. PhD thesis, Central European University, Budapest.
  • 3

Example violence and abuse dissertation topic 2:

The trafficking of females aged between 13 and 19 along the M6 corridor : An anthropological approach to its resolution.

Ethnically based targeting of vulnerable teenage girls for the purposes of sexual abuse and human trafficking has recently gained media attention. Much of this activity centres on the M6 corridor, including the minor M-roads that feed into the M6, such as the M61, M62, M67, M606, and M621. Cities and towns that are within this area include Leeds, Bradford, Rochdale, Bolton, Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry. This dissertation considers whether applied anthropology and the observations it can make may help to provide a solution for this distressing problem. The paper also evaluates the culture of those involved in this abuse, as well as the degree to which linkages between the towns and cities affected have an impact on the behaviour both of victims and their abusers.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dyer, K., Dickey, N., Smith, S. and Helmy, H. (2012). ‘Human trafficking in Florida: The role of applied anthropology in addressing the problem and response’. Practicing Anthropology, vol. 34(4), pp. 24-28.
  • Outshoorn, J. (2005). ‘The political debates on prostitution and trafficking of women’. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society, vol. 12(1), pp. 141-155.
  • Shinkle, W. (2007). ‘Protecting trafficking victims: Inadequate measures?’ Transatlantic Perspectives on Migration. Policy Brief, vol. 2, pp. 1-11.

Mental Health

If you would be interested in approaching anthropology from a mental health perspective then these suggestions may be for you!

Example mental health dissertation topic 1:

Explaining cultural variations in rates of schizophrenia between first and second generation English Afro-Caribbean and Caucasian people in Nottingham.

Concern as to the higher rates of schizophrenia felt amongst English Afro-Caribbean this dissertation will apply ethnographic fieldwork techniques. Focusing upon a specific geographic area, this dissertation will work with residents of Nottingham (particularly those within the Hyson Green and St Ann’s wards) who have either been diagnosed with schizophrenia or are relatives/carers/friends of those with the disorder. Taking a longer term view of the development of the Afro-Caribbean community within the city, this dissertation proposes that social change, sub-standard housing and a lack of access to education has resulted in the creation of a community pre-disposed to mental health anguishes. Thus this dissertation looks at societal fragmentation, social inequality and isolation as being key factors that have led to negatives affecting Afro-Caribbean mental health for their community has become defined by social defeat and negativity.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Atkin, K. and Rollings, J. (1992). ‘Informal care in Asian and Afro/Caribbean communities: A literature review’. British Journal of Social Work, vol. 22(4), pp. 405-418.
  • Sugarman, P.A. and Craufurd, D. (1994). ‘Schizophrenia in the Afro-Caribbean community’. British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 164(4), pp. 474-480.
  • Thomas, C.S., Stone, K., Osborn, M., Thomas, P.F. and Fisher, M. (1993). ‘Psychiatric morbidity and compulsory admission among UK-born Europeans, Afro-Caribbeans and Asians in central Manchester’. The British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 163(1), pp. 91-99.

Ethnicity and Race

If you are more interested in the rights of certain ethnicities or a specific race then this may be a good choice for your dissertation! Take a look at some examples:

Example ethnicity and race dissertation topic 1:

Class, race and changing ‘civicness’ in Leicester: A contemporary analysis.

Focusing on a multiculturally diverse city that is increasingly dominated by a service-industry employment market, this dissertation examines social relations within the city and how ‘race relations’ impact upon issues of ‘civicness’. In the first instance, this study seeks to suggest, through the conduct of ethnographic research, that as individual ‘race-based’ communities have flourished, the idea of belonging to a larger ‘civic’ culture has been reduced. Thereafter, the dissertation seeks to analyse how the dominant South Asian Hindu population is responding to the changes wrought by the influx of increasing numbers of both Muslims and Eastern European migrants into the city.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bastos, S. (2010). ‘From local inter-ethnicities to the dynamics of the world system: Identity debates between Portuguese and British Sunnis in Leicester’. In, Westin, C., Bastos, J., Dahinden, J. and G?is, P., (eds) Identity processes and dynamics in multi-ethnic Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 149-178.
  • Shukla, S. (2001). ‘Locations for South Asian di�sporas’. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 30, pp. 551-572.
  • Vertovec, S. (1999). ‘More multi, less culturalism: The anthropology of cultural complexity and the new politics of pluralism’.

Ecological Change

You may want to take a look at ecological change for your dissertation. This is a topic with lots of research available and could be an interesting avenue to take. Take a look at our examples below:

Example ecological change dissertation topic 1:

Power and fuel in the forest: An anthropological study of the Semang people of Malaysia.

This dissertation analyses the human interactions and political processes of coercion and control as well as issues of profit and loss with regards to the Semang tribes in Peninsular Malaysia. Through analysing the stories of local people and how they perceive changes in their ecological landscape this dissertation seeks to answer a number of specific research questions. How, in such a changing world, have local communities retained power against felling companies? How do they perceive the environmental disaster (or change) that surrounds them? How do the realities of contemporary forest dwelling challenge the traditional and romanticised views of such lives presented in local folklores. This is a dissertation that could also be moulded to address issues of international governance, management and resource exploitation if these are associated areas of academic interest.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Brosius, J.P. (1999). ‘Green dots, pink hearts: Displacing politics from the Malaysian rain forest’. American Anthropologist, vol. 101(1), pp. 36-57.
  • Gomes, A. (2012). ‘Give or take: A comparative analysis of demand sharing among the Menraq and Semai of Malaysia’. In, Musharbash, Y., Barber, M. and Peterson, N. (eds). Essays in ethnography and the production of anthropological knowledge. Canberra: Australian National University, pp. 147-158.
  • Tuck-Po, L. (2005). ‘The road to equality? Landscape transformation and the Batek of Pahang, Malaysia’. In, Widlok, T. and Tadesse, W.G., (eds) Property and equality: Encapsulation, commercialisation, discrimination. New York: Bergahn Books, pp. 90-103.


An interesting subject to look into in regards to anthropology is education.  The following are just a few topic suggestions in this area to get you started.

Example education dissertation topic 1:

The changing structure of independent education and aspirational desires: A comparative study of Bradford and Leeds.

Focusing on the cities’ independent boys’ schools, this dissertation has three primary aims. First, it charts and evaluates the changing nature of the intake into the schools upon social and ethnic grounds. Secondly, through interviewing existing and former parents, it seeks to explain the changing motivations and socio-economic dynamics encouraging parents to send their sons to these schools. Thirdly, it evaluates the views of pupils, especially the growing number of those from ethnic minorities, regarding the suggestion that they are increasingly culturally removed from their ‘home’ communities – a concern that can be seen to have particular relevance give the recent racial tensions in Bradford.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ball, S.J. (1997). ‘On the cusp: Parents choosing between state and private schools in the UK: Action within an economy of symbolic goods’. International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 1(1), pp. 1-17.
  • Khattab, N. (2003). ‘Explaining educational aspirations of minority students: The role of social capital and students’ perceptions’. Social Psychology of Education, vol. 6(4), pp. 283-302.
  • Lipman, P. (2009). ‘The cultural politics of mixed-income schools and housing: A racialized discourse of displacement, exclusion, and control’. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, vol. 40(3), pp. 215-236.


Sex has always been a big part of anthropology, whether it is an analyses of sex or sexuality it would make a very interesting topic for a dissertation. Take a look at some suggestions below:

Example sex dissertation topic 1:

From ‘street worker’ to ‘college concubine’: Changing social structures and perceptions of escort work.

With the rise of ‘sugar daddy’ websites targeting university students within England and news that the most elite of Britain’s universities have the most students registered upon such sites, this anthropological study addresses perceptions to escort work amongst society, clients and service providers. Noting that, over the last 15 years, the number of street workers has also declined and there is an increased acceptance of a more overtly sexualised society (especially within the media), this dissertation seeks to answer whether or not the rise of professional and educated escort services should be seen as ‘prostitution in a new guise’ or whether the ‘selling of time’ should be viewed, as its proponents maintain, as a legitimate mechanism through which companionship can be obtained and tuition fees paid.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Lantz, S. (2005). ‘Students working in the Melbourne sex industry: Education, human capital and the changing patterns of the youth labour market’. Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 8(4): pp. 385-401.
  • Masvawure, T. (2010). ”I just need to be flashy on campus’: Female students and transactional sex at a university in Zimbabwe’. Culture, Health & Sexuality, vol. 12(8), pp. 857-870.
  • Roberts, R., Jones, A. and Sanders, T. (2012). ‘Students and sex work in the UK: Providers and purchasers’. Sex Education, (ahead-of-print), 1-15.

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