Dr. Dietrich Stout (Emory Anthropology) interviews Dr. Marcela Benitez about her work with Capuchin monkeys and her interest in their social behavior. Dr. Benitez is a postdoc at GA State University and will join Emory’s Anthropology Department as an assistant professor in January 2021.
Dr. Mel Konner (Emory Anthropology) is interviewed by Dr. Lynne Nygaard as part of CMBC’s “Inside the lab” series. Dr. Konner speaks about his upcoming course “Evolution of Childhood” and his research interests.
Dr. Christina Rogers Flattery (PhD 2019, postdoc at Harvard) reflects on her experience as a CMBC Certificate student during her time at Emory.
The Anthropology department is proud to recognize eleven seniors who successfully defended honors theses, most of them holding defenses remotely and completing their projects from home after the University closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Their projects, the culmination of a year (or more!) of independent research and writing, were completed under the supervision of faculty advisors and committee members from within and outside of Anthropology, with support from faculty honors coordinator Dr. Kristin Phillips. These students were honored in a virtual Anthropology Honors and Awards Ceremony on April 24th. One student, Rachel Kim, graduated from Emory in December, and the others are scheduled to graduate with honors on May 11.
Please see below for a full list of theses, and join us in congratulating these students on their hard work and accomplishment!
Claire Biffl – Experiences of Aging, Kinship, Death, and Independence in an Independent Living Facility
Advised by Kristin Phillips
Elisabeth Crusey – “Does anybody have ibuprofen?”: An Investigation of Emory Undergraduates’ Over-the-Counter Analgesic Use
Advised by Bisan Salhi (School of Medicine)
Emma Hanlon – Spiritual Community, Sacred Congregation: Ritual, Discourse, and Space in the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Sarena Ho – Father Absence and Young Adult Romantic Relationship Ideals
Advised by Craig Hadley
Jahnvi Jain – Effects of a Brief Breath Focused Mindfulness Meditation Intervention on Heart Rate Variability and Dissociation in Patients with PTSD and Dissociation
Advised by Negar Fani (School of Medicine)
Adama Kamara – The Politics of Empowerment and Black Female Sexuality: Perceptions Through the Lens of Atlanta’s Trafficking Networks
Advised by Bayo Holsey
Nora Keathley – Latinx Women and Labor in the Digital Age: Exploring Childbirth and Medical Authority Through the Use of YouTube
Advised by John Lindo
Rachel Kim – Representation Matters: Changing Portrayals of Asian-Americans in Hollywood Films from 1993-2019
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Riana Peskopos – The Queer Female Medical Narratives
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Ruhika Prasad – Mental Illness and Pregnancy among Women in Mysore, India: Health Provider and Women’s Perspectives
Advised by Joyce Flueckiger (Religion)
Naomi Tesema – Mobile Phone Apps for HIV Prevention Among College-Aged Black Women in Atlanta: Preferences and Prototype
Advised by Rasheeta Chandler (Nursing) and John Lindo
A list of all previously completed Anthropology honors theses is available at
In his interview with the BBC Dr. James Rilling presents his research on hormonal and neural changes men experience during fatherhood, including lower testosterone and higher oxytocin during early fatherhood.
The interviews with Dr. Rilling and other experts in the field covers the topic of fatherhood and its challenges broadly, listen to the full interview online.
The Netflix show “Babies” featured Michelle Lampl as one of over 30 scientists. The docuseries about the first year in an infant’s life included Lampl’s research on growth spurts as part of Episode 3.
Read more on the Emory News Center.
Dr. Moscovice and Dr. Jaeggi research the sexual behavior between female bonobos and their implications based on social behavior and hormones.
Read the Full Article on Science Direct. Hormones and Behavior.
Sex for cooperation: New insights help to explain why same-sex sexual interactions are so important for female bonobos
Among our two closest phylogenetic relatives, chimpanzees remain by far the more thoroughly-studied and widely-recognized species, known for their high levels of cooperation especially among males, which includes sharing food, supporting each other in aggressive conflicts and defending their territories against other communities. In contrast, insights into the social dynamics of wild bonobos are available from only a small number of long-term field sites, and bonobos are probably best known for their diverse sexual behavior, which together with their proposed peacefulness between communities and co-dominance between the sexes, has led to their nickname as the ‘hippie apes.’ The stereotype of bonobos as hyper-sexual is an over-simplification, but it does capture a fascinating aspect of bonobo social behavior. Bonobos are one of the few species in which all adult members of one sex engage in habitual same-sex sexual interactions that occur at similar or even greater frequencies as opposite-sex interactions. In the wild, all adult females perform same-sex genital contacts, known as genito-genital rubbing (or GG-rubbing) on a regular basis with many other females in their community. In contrast, male bonobos rarely engage in same-sex sexual behavior. There are several theories to explain the function of same-sex sexual behavior in bonobos, including as a way to reduce social tension, prevent aggression or form social bonds. However, none of these theories can explain why such behavior occurs so frequently only among females.
To clarify why same-sex sexual behavior is so important specifically for female bonobos, we collected behavioral and hormonal data for over a year from all adult members of a habituated bonobo community at the long-term LuiKotale field site in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to our focus on sexual interactions, we identified preferred partners for other social activities such as giving support in conflicts. We also collected urine to measure the hormone oxytocin, which is released in the body in other species after friendly social interactions, including sex and helps to promote cooperation.
We found that in competitive situations, females preferred to have sex with other females rather than with males. After sex, females often remained closer to each other than did mixed sex pairs, and females had measurable increases in urinary oxytocin following sex with females, but not following sex with males. Among same-sex and opposite-sex pairs, individuals who had more sex also supported each other more often in conflicts, but the majority of these coalitions were formed among females. “It may be that a greater motivation for cooperation among females, mediated physiologically by oxytocin, is the key to understanding how females attain high dominance ranks in bonobo society” explained co-lead author Surbeck.
For humans as well, alliances between members of the same sex provide many benefits, including mutual social support and sharing of resources. There is also historical and cross-cultural evidence that such alliances are often reinforced through sexual interactions. “While it is important to not equate human homosexuality with same-sex sexual behavior in animals, our study suggests that in both humans and a close phylogenetic relative, the evolution of same-sex sexual behavior may have provided new pathways to promote high levels of cooperation” states co-lead author Moscovice.
Jordan Martin publishes the research he has done during his time at Emory. Martin and his colleagues find that ‘masculinized’ facial morphology associates with both aggressive and affiliative dominance behavior in bonobos (Pan paniscus), one of human’s closest living relatives. Their study suggests that developmental androgen exposure may cause associations between facial morphology, personality, and dominance status in both humans and non-human primates.
Anthropology and human biology graduate Abbe McCarter received the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award for her project “Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation.” This was part of her honors thesis titled “Windows into the Lived Experiences and Health Consequences of Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation: Implications for Indigenous Peoples’ Food Sovereignty”. She graduated in May with highest honors.
“I am beyond grateful for the Rose Library and their consideration for the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award. This award allowed me to travel to the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus Reservation and conduct first hand qualitative and quantitative research. The experience as a whole provided me with significant lessons in conducting anthropological research as I examined the lived experiences and health consequences of food insecurity and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples. I am certain that this award, the mentorship of Dr. Vidali and the rest of Emory’s Anthropology department, and the completion of my honors thesis, contributed to me achieving my current position – as the 2019/20 Melvin Ember intern with HRAF at Yale University working with some of the most important minds and data in cross-cultural research. Having the opportunity to travel to the Cattaraugus Reservation was absolutely critical, and allowed me to foster relationships with interlocutors in the field and embark upon a course of study which will continue to grow for years to come thanks to the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award!”
She is one of eleven Emory students who recently received undergraduate research awards for their library research. Read more in the Emory News Center.
Suma Ikeuchi (16PhD), Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has several publications and travel plans coming up this summer. Her first book, Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a Brazilian Diaspora, has just been published by Stanford University Press (June 2019). With the Engaged Anthropology Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, she is traveling to Japan and Brazil this summer to share the research results with the migrants who participated in the study and to deliver lectures at a number of universities in both countries including Nanzan University and the University of São Paulo. Her most recent article, “From Slaves to Agents: Pentecostal Ethic and Precarious Labor among Brazilian Migrants in Toyota, Japan” has also been published by The Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR), the premier academic journal in religious studies. She is also expanding her scholarship to an exciting new direction by exploring the crossroads of Anthropology and Art. A panel discussion with several prominent Japanese anthropologists titled “Writing, Creating, and Teaching at the Intersection of Art and Anthropology” will take place this summer at Kyoto City University of Arts.