News & Events

News & Events

February 25th, 2019

Augustus Richard Norton

Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and International Relations


We are very sad to announce the death of our colleague, Professor Richard Norton, on February 20, 2019. Norton’s research experience in the Middle East spanned nearly three decades, including residences in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon. His recent research interests include inter-sectarian relations in the Middle East, reformist Muslim thought, and strategies of political reform and opposition in authoritarian states. In the 1990s he headed a widely-cited three-year project funded by the Ford Foundation that examined the state-society relations in the Middle East and the question of civil society in the region. It is indicative of his interests that many of his courses were often cross-listed with the departments of international relations and political science. He has also held academic appointments at New York University and the United States Military Academy. In 2006 he was an advisor to the Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission). He was also Visiting Professor in the Politics of the Middle East at the University of Oxford and a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Some memories from within the Department of Anthropology, and from colleagues and friends.

BU Anthropology at #AAPA2019

February 13th, 2019

The Department of Anthropology will be well-represented at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Cleveland, OH March 27-30. If you’ll be at the AAPA, make sure to stop by a presentation or two (or all 18)!

Presentations by current BU Biological Anthropologists (and recent Ph.D. alumni) will include (* = Undergraduate Student, ** = Graduate Student, *** = Postdoctoral Research Associate;  **** = Faculty):

Mitochondrial DNA Demonstrates the Significance of a Western Gateway in Uganda for Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) Gene Flow. Alicia M. Rich***, Christopher A. Schmitt****, Michael D. Wasserman, Kevin D. Hunt, Frederika A. Kaestle.

Timing of reproductive onset among female vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) in wild and human-impacted populations. Stacy-Anne R. Parke*, Alicia M. Rich***, Maryjka B. Blaszczyk, Christopher A. Schmitt****.

Effect of Reproduction on Javan Slow Loris Mother’s Activity Budget and Ranging Behavior. Ariana Weldon, Stephanie Poindexter***, Marco Campera, Muhammad A. Imron, K.A.I. Nekaris.

Orangutan Nesting Behavior in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Laura A. Brubaker-Wittman**, Andrea Blackburn**, Andrea L. DiGiorgio**, Faye S. Harwell**, Erin E. Kane***, Tri wahyu Susanto, Cheryl D. Knott****.

Adolescent female orangutans benefit from associations with their mother in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Caitlin A. O’Connell**, Wuryantari Setiadi, Cheryl D. Knott****.

Fecal isotopes as indicators of weaning and diet in wild Bornean orangutans. Cheryl D. Knott****, Brooke Crowley, Michelle Brown, Tri Wahyu Susanto.

Nutrient goals of wild Bornean orangutans at Gunung Palung National Park: a case for nutrient balancing. Andrea L. DiGiorgio**, Cheryl D. Knott****.

Moving through ecology: orangutan positional behavior in a mosaic habitat. Erin E. Kane***, Andrea Blackburn**, Tri Wahyu Susantu, Cheryl D. Knott****.

Navigational demand and how it’s linked to olfaction and spatial memory in primates. Stephanie A. Poindexter***, Rebecca M. DeCamp*, Eva C. Garrett****.

Dietary fiber and nutritional quality of the foods of Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ishrat Chowdhury, Madeline E. Eori, Tri W. Susanto, Erin E. Kane***, Nancy-Lou Conklin, Cheryl D. Knott****.

Body temperature estimates for Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) from internal fecal temperature measurements. Faye S. Harwell**, Rinaldi Gotama, Katherine S. Scott, Brodie Philp, Cheryl D. Knott***.

Men’s secretory immunoglobin-A, testosterone, and cortisol are significantly associated within a single day and across two sequential days. Graham Albert**, Nicholas Landry, Triana L. Ortiz, Justin M. Carré, Steven A. Arnocky, Carolyn R. Hodges-Simeon****.

A Closer Look at Global Prevalence of Obstetric Fistula. Lexi R. Lang*, Cheryl Knott****.

Estimating extinct primate vomeronasal traits using maximum likelihood ancestral state reconstruction methods. Rebecca M. DeCamp*, Eva C. Garrett****.

Obstetric constraints in large-brained cebids and modern humans: a comparison of coping mechanisms. Natalie M. Laudicina**, Matt Cartmill****.

Chimpanzee reverse zoonoses: unfortunate natural experiments in great ape comparative medicine and demography. Tony L. Goldberg, Sarmi Basnet, Melissa Emery-Thompson, James E. Gern, Kristine A. Grindle, Kevin E. Langengraber, Zarin Machanda, John C. Mitani, Martin M. Muller, Jacob D. Negrey**, Emily Otali, Leah Owens, Ann C. Palmenberg, Tressa E. Pappas, Sarah Phillips-Garcia, Rachna B. Reddy, Erik J. Scully, Richard W. Wrangham.

A natural history of the femoral neck. Alexander G. Claxton**.

Home range and territoriality suggest that venom as a weapon in slow lorises. Anna I. Nekaris, Marco Campara, Stephanie Poindexter***, Thais Queiroz, Ariana Weldon, Vincent Nijman, Muhammad A. Imron.

Christopher A. Schmitt**** is also a speaker on the panel Navigating the Intercultural Landscape of Gender-Based Harassment and Assault in Fieldwork (Thursday, 2:30-4:30pm, CC Room 20), which is co-organized by Erin E. Kane***.


Congratulations, BU Biological Anthropologists!  See you in Cleveland!

Postdoc Dr. Stephanie Poindexter on Primate Venom and Movement Ecology

February 12th, 2019

Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Stephanie Poindexter, of the Department of Anthropology’s Sensory Morphology and Genomic Anthropology Lab, recently published a paper establishing the facial markings of her study species, the Javan slow loris, as an aposematic signal advertising their toxicity (lorises are among the only known venomous mammals) in the journal Toxins (Nekaris et al., 2019), which was recently covered by National Geographic.

Dr. Poindexter is also co-organizing a symposium at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists called “Advancing the Field: Movement Ecology in the Non-Human Primates“. The symposium brings together scholars working on the various aspects of primate movement ecology to determine our current understanding of the internal state, movement capacity, navigational capacity, and environmental cues that facilitate primate movement.

Andrea Blackburn Awarded National Geographic Society Grant

February 12th, 2019

PhD Student Andrea Blackburn was awarded a National Geographic Society Early Career grant for her PhD dissertation work on Orangutan Seed Dispersal Effectiveness, working with Professor Cheryl Knott on her long-term orangutan project in Borneo.

Graduate Lunch Seminar 02/22/19

February 11th, 2019

Anthropology Department Graduate Lunch Seminar

The Subversive Politics of Sentient Places: Climate Change, Collective Ethics, and Environmental Justice in Northern Peru

Professor Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, State University of New York, Buffalo

NOTE THIS IS A FRIDAY TALK: February 22, 2019  1:30-3:00

African Studies Seminar Room, Fifth floor, 232 Bay State Road

Please contact Professor Merry White ( by February 18th at 5 pm if lunch is wanted.

Poor mestizos in northern Peru offer a new way to theorize humanism and sentient landscapes that interact with humans in terms of environmental justice, collective ethics, and health. This model transcends the limits of ontological cosmopolitics and political ecology. Mestizos respond to climate change and environmental devastation and challenge the governance of late liberalism by engaging indigenous sentient landscapes as leaders of environmental movements and co-creators of an interethnic world. They attach moral agency to the natural world for social and environmental transformation and open up a new kind of political debate. By defining “community” and “well-being” as humans-in-relationship-to-places-as-persons, poor mestizos resignify “nature” itself as an anchor for social justice.

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo is Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York-Buffalo. She has been conducting anthropological research with the Mapuche people of southern Chile and Argentina for 25 years and with the people of northern Peru for 4 years.  She is the author of Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Patagonia (University of Texas Press, 2016); Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing Among the Chilean Mapuche (University of Texas Press, 2007) and other works. Bacigalupo is currently conducting new research on Northern Peru on the relationship between Sentient Mountains and local movements for collective ethics and environmental justice led by shamans.

Prof. Eva Garrett on Attraction in BU Today

February 9th, 2019

Just  in time for Valentine’s Day, Prof. Eva Garrett of the Department of Anthropology’s Sensory Morphology and Genomic Anthropology Lab (SMGAL) is featured in a video on BU Today among other faculty seeking to explain human attraction.

So watch out for pheromones this coming week… or, as Prof. Garrett explains… don’t.

Talk on Climate Change and Animal Behavior 2/9/19

February 9th, 2019

Please join Department of Anthropology Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Stephanie Poindexter at her discussion of the effects of climate change on animal behavior with Dr. Richard Primack (Biology) at ‘Professor Perspectives: Animal Behavior and Climate Change‘, sponsored by BU Pre-Veterinary and Animal Lovers Society (PALS) on Monday, February 25th from 5:00pm to 6:00pm at 100 Bay State Road (YAW 545B).

Dr. Poindexter works with Prof. Eva Garrett in the Department of Anthropology’s Sensory Morphology and Genomic Anthropology Lab (SMGAL).

Ph.D. Student Amy Scott Awarded Leakey Foundation Grant

February 9th, 2019

Biological Anthropology Ph.D. student Amy Scott was awarded a grant from the Leakey Foundation in their fall 2018 cycle for her dissertation research, “Sexual conflict and sexual selection in Bornean orangutan reproductive strategies,” supervised by Prof. Cheryl Knott.

Amy is currently in the field conducting her research at Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia.

Anthropology Majors Win IDEAS Scholarships for AAPA 2019

February 9th, 2019

Undergraduate Anthropology majors Stacy-Anne Parke and Xaulanda Thorpe have been selected to participate in the Increasing Diversity in the Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences (IDEAS) Workshop at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (#AAPA2019) in Cleveland, Ohio this coming March.

The workshop includes 15 IDEAS Student Scholars (both undergraduate and graduate) matched with 15 IDEAS Faculty. The day-long meeting includes scientific presentations by faculty scholars, thematically and topically focused mentoring groups, and introduction to tools, resources, and practices to help meet the challenges and opportunities faced by students from racialized minority groups traditionally underrepresented in biological anthropology and first generation college students.

As IDEAS Student Scholars, each student will receive a travel stipend, lodging at the conference venue, a waiver of registration fees, and up to a three-year waiver of AAPA membership fees.

Both students work with Prof. Christopher Schmitt in the Department of Anthropology’s Sensory Morphology and Genomic Anthropology Lab (SMGAL).

Congratulations to Stacy-Anne and Xaulanda!

Graduate Lunch Series 02/07/19

February 1st, 2019

The Anthropology Department Presents: Graduate Lunch Series

 “Roads, Cyclists, and Emergent Politics in India”

Lecture by Associate Professor Jonathan Anjaria

Thursday February 7th 2019

12:00pm African Studies Seminar Room (5th floor)

Light lunch will be provided to those who contact Professor Merry White ( by Monday February 4th at 5:00pm

Cycling, once relegated to the past, is now the site of vibrant new body cultures in India. Through research conducted between 2015-2018 on cycling cultures in Mumbai, I show that the meaning of recreational cycling often lies in corporeal experiences. For instance, recreational cyclists talk about the pleasures of unexpected social encounters that happen while sensing the road and its textures. Scholarly writings on leisure activities in India, as elsewhere, often focus on symbolic analysis, emphasizing things like class-based distinction. However, I ask, how might we also see cycling as a body culture defined by experimentation—with one’s sense of self, gender, ideas of the body and relation to others? How does meaning emerge through embodied experience? And, what would a mode of critique look like that focuses on the surface of practices rather than, as Rita Felski puts it, exposing what lies beneath?

Jonathan Anjaria is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis. His publications include a book titled The Slow Boil: Street Food, Public Space and Rights in Mumbai, as well as articles on corruption, street vending, civic activism, citizenship and popular culture in contemporary India, and a co-edited a book on urban South Asia (Urban Navigations: Politics, Space and the City in South Asia, with Colin McFarlane). He is currently researching the cultural life of the bicycle in India.