Catherine Bolten

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies

Catherine Bolten

317 Hesburgh Center for International Studies
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

(574) 631-5099
cbolten@nd.edu

Google Scholar page

Catherine Bolten

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies

Expertise

Development anthropology; youth; structural violence; poverty, education; food security; Ebola; ethnoprimatology

At the Keough School 

Catherine Bolten currently serves as director of doctoral studies for the Keough School’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where she is a core faculty member.

Courses

Ethnographic Methods for Peace Research (core course for master of global affairs concentration in international peace studies)

Research and Biography

Catherine Bolten has been working in Sierra Leone since 2003, focusing first on issues of memory, poverty, morality, and post-war development.
Bolten’s first book I Did It to Save My Life: Love and Survival in Sierra Leone (2012) is part of the University of California Press Series in Public Anthropology. Her second book, Serious Youth in Sierra Leone: An Ethnography of Performance and Global Connection, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. The book focuses on the material practices of youth who, instead of wanting to overthrow or change a patronage system widely credited with causing the war, instead yearn to belong to it. This bid to be taken “seriously” is misinterpreted by adults who feel threatened by young people’s facility with technology and the trappings of globalization, causing intergenerational friction.

Since 2014 Bolten has been involved in the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project in central Sierra Leone, where she has been investigating the nexus between food insecurity, population growth and family dynamics, land degradation, and wildlife competition. The first outputs from that project have been published in the edited volume Living With Animals, and in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology and African Studies Review, with several more expected in the coming years. A pilot project examining the links between structural violence, poverty, and drug use by young people has been put on hold due to the pandemic, with an anticipated pilot phase in 2022.

Bolten was a member of the international Ebola Anthropology Emergency Task Force, and co-edited a special issue on Ebola for Anthropological Quarterly in 2017. She has consulted for the United Nations World Food Programme and Physicians for Social Responsibility, and has conducted extensive fieldwork on ethnobotany, eco-tourism, and development in Botswana. Her articles appear in American AnthropologistComparative Studies in Society and HistoryAnthropological Quarterly, and The Journal of Human Rights, among many others. She is an associate editor for the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review, an interdisciplinary forum for creative and rigorous studies of conflict and peace in Africa.

Recent work

The Paradox of Planning: Agriculture, Schooling, and the Unresolvable Uncertainty of Ideal Family Size in Rural Sierra Leone (African Studies Review)

News and Blog Posts

Their deaths shame us all: neoliberalism, COVID-19, and the banality of evil (Dignity & Development)
To choose life or solvency? Fear as a pre-existing condition in COVID-19 mortality in the United States (Dignity & Development)
Catherine Bolten highlighted on International Women’s Day