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 and 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 research proposed. 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. While application may be a desirable component of the proposal's Broader Impacts, a proposal that only proposes to use anthropological methods and approaches to find solutions to social, medical, or other problems and does not specifically propose to make a theory-testing and/or theory-expanding contribution to anthropological science, will be returned without review.