Catherine Bolten

Associate Professor

Catherine Bolten

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 aspiration in the wake of civil war to the politics of chimpanzee conservation in unprotected forest fragments. She has conducted research in Sierra Leone since 2003, and in Botswana from 1996 to 2002. 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 is also a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, and is a core faculty member of the Keough School for Global Affairs, which houses the institutes.

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. Her second book, titled Serious Youth in Sierra Leone: An Ethnography of Generation and Globalization is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Articles related to this project appear in The Journal for Anthropological Research, Anthropological Quarterly, and The Journal of Human Rights. The book analyzes how youth orient their schooling, employment, politics, and even their dress and comportment around the practices designed to be "taken seriously" by adults.

In 2017 Professor Bolten co-edited a special journal issue on the Ebola epidemic in Anthropological Quarterly.

Her current research is a collaboration with primatologist Andrew Halloran, of Save the Chimps, on the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project. This project examines chimpanzee survival, conservation, and the possibilities for zoonotic disease transfer 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


242 Corbett Family Hall
317 Hesburgh Center
(574) 631-5099