Scholar Focuses on Culture and Conflict


Catherine Bolten is the Kroc Institute’s new Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies. Her research focuses on the cultural and moral dimensions of violent conflict. Bolten has worked extensively in Sierra Leone, examining the responses of everyday people to that country’s brutal 10-year civil war.

Bolten earned her doctorate in anthropology at the University of Michigan in 2008. Shortly after receiving her Ph.D., she won the University of California Press competition in public anthropology for her prospectus of a book manuscript titled, I Did It to Save My Life: Morality and Survival in Sierra Leone.

At Notre Dame, Bolten is teaching a new class on structural violence, which she describes as “the invisible undercurrents in a society that cause the cauldron of violence to boil over and lead to armed conflict and revolution.” She also is developing a new course titled, “The Cult of Personality:  Heroes and Dictators,” which will focus on charismatic leaders ranging from Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe.

Bolten has consulted for the United Nations World Food Programme and Physicians for Social Responsibility. She also has conducted extensive fieldwork on ethnobotany, eco-tourism, and development in Botswana. Her articles appear in The Journal of Modern African Studies and The Journal of Political Ecology.

Contact: Joan Fallon, (574) 631-8819,