Coming Up With Outstanding Race And Ethnicity Term Paper Topics


Race describes the major divisions of humans on the basis of their physical characteristics, such as Caucasoid or Australoid. Ethnicity focuses on national and cultural divisions, such as Russian or Han Chinese. The two concepts are commonly confused in casual conversation. But even in discerning discourse, there are some knotty problems underlying their apparently simple definitions. Fortunately, that makes for some fascinating term paper topics that will have you well on your way to impressing your professor. Here are our top dimensions to thoughtfully consider in your next term paper.

The five bases of ethnicity

Here there are five key aspects to consider: Race, religion, language, nationality, and geography. One or more combinations of these may define different ethnicities. When one aspect, core to the definition, changes, it surprisingly can actually strengthen the underlying ethnicity. The most common example of this occurs with immigrants, who, despite changing their geography, often strengthen their ethnic identities in their adopted new homes. Include these dimensions, and an awareness of their fluidity in your paper.

The ethnicity models

There are multiple approaches to understanding ethnicity. The most important of these are known as primordialism, perennialism, constructivism, modernism, instrumentalism, and essentialism. Though there are continued debates as to the accuracy, suitability, and usefulness of these different models, those debates are not yet resolved. It is critical that you demonstrate your understanding of these debates in your work.

Never confuse race and ethnicity

Though the two terms even scientifically were used interchangeably in the past, academics are almost unanimous that the two terms describe different phenomena, and should not be confounded. Nonetheless, the two are hard to treat entirely separately, so your paper should correctly address both aspects.

Race may not even exist

Having distinguished the terms, there is a strong debate about whether or not the concept of race actually represents something real and significant in terms of genetic differences largely constrained within geographic areas. The predominant scientific consensus is that such a traditional definition is flawed and unsupported by evidence. But it does leave the question as to what, then, the term does define, particularly because there are strong applications of even casual definitions of the concept in areas such as medicine and forensic anthropology. As you consider your own arguments, make sure that you show an awareness of this problem where appropriate.