Catherine Bolten earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 2008.  She has been working in Sierra Leone since 2003, focusing first on issues of memory, poverty, morality, and post-war development. Her book I Did It to Save My Life: Love and Survival in Sierra Leone, was published in October 2012 as part of the University of California Press Series in Public Anthropology.  Her current research examines the nexus of youth education, unemployment, and political participation in light of Sierra Leone's general election in November, 2012.

Bolten has previously 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 Anthropologist, The Journal of Modern African Studies, and The Journal of Political Ecology.