Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
Phone: +49 341 3550 304
Office: level 1, room u1.12
I am an applied evolutionary social scientist with a background in economics and sociology. My research focuses on understanding how institutions evolve. Institutions are the set of interlocking norms, rules, and behavioural enforcement mechanisms that govern behaviour and (sometimes) support cooperation. Beyond strict rationality both, cultural evolution and social learning help us understand how institutions emerge and stabilize throughout history. In particular, I bridge applied research in conservation and modelling cultural evolution to understand how humans build institutions for managing natural resources.
Recently I have also initiated a project focus on market integration. Our goal is to understand how markets emerge and how people who once lived subsistence lifestyles (foraging, farming, and fishing) integrate themselves into modern market institutions.
Both of these research goals are aided by a field site I help run, in conjunction with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder and Tim Caro, in Pemba, Tanzania. Pemba provides a unique opportunity to study some of the world's most pressing challenges facing modernizing societies (environmental conservation and market integration). Indeed, it offers a worthy challenge for scientists to learn how to apply our findings to support residents meet modern challenges head-on.