Catherine Bolten

Associate Professor

Catherine Bolten

** Professor Bolten is not accepting graduate students for academic year 2017-2018**

B.A., Williams College (1998)
MPhil., University of Cambridge, UK (2000)
M.A., University of Michigan (2003)
Ph.D., University of Michigan (2008)

Professor Bolten is a development anthropologist whose interests range from understanding youth participation in political elections to the politics of chimpanzee conservation in unprotected forest fragments. She has worked in Sierra Leone since 2003, and from 1996-2002 worked in Botswana. She teaches in the anthropology program and in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, is also a fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and is a concurrent Associate Professor in Africana Studies. Professor Bolten recently became a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health.

Her first book, I Did It to Save My Life: Love and Survival in Sierra Leone (University of California Press, 2012) analyzed how personal narration of survival during Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war illuminated a moral and social framework orientated towards care and material investment in others.  Related articles appear in American Anthropologist, The Journal of Modern African Studies, The Journal of Political Ecology, Ethnologie Française, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review. She is currently analyzing data and writing her second book project, tentatively titled Our Slice of the Cake: Youth and Social Politics in Urban Sierra Leone. Articles from this project appear in The Journal for Anthropological Research and Anthropological Quarterly (forthcoming). In this body of work she analyzes how youth orient their schooling, employment, politics, and even their dress and socialization habits, around the idea of being “taken seriously” by adults.

Her current research is a collaboration with primatologist Andrew Halloran, of Lynn University, on the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project. This project examines chimpanzee survival and conservation in light of rural food insecurity, overpopulation, climate change, and the recent Ebola epidemic. Professor Bolten is testing new methodologies for studying material proximity, or the indirect interfaces of human-animal entanglements that influence the health and stability of human and animal populations.

Curriculum Vitae


641 Flanner Hall
317 Hesburgh Center
(574) 631-5099