Omo Valley
About our Research

We study how humans produce complex social systems, including the norms, practices, and institutions that they require. The components to build our complex social systems were already in place among our hunting and gathering ancestors—what were they? How and why were they combined to unleash seemingly limitless possibilities to the scale of cooperation and organization we are capable of?


Much of the complex social behavior we produce emerges from bottom-up decision-making. Just as sub-cellular processes can give rise to emergent structures and complex behavior, humans also produce emergent phenomena unintentionally, such as the structured villages seen in the satellite imagery above. ​We focus on understanding social systems as emerging from individuals with biological and psychological inheritance interacting within a social environment. Our major questions concern collective behavior, social institutions, and the origins of violence and warfare.

We prioritize understanding behavior in its real-world context. Thus we rely heavily on naturalistic field studies and maintain a long-term fieldsite among traditional populations in southwest Ethiopia. 

Recent News

  • Luke Glowacki awarded the 2019 New Investigator Award for the European Human Behavior and Evolution Association.  ​

Contact Us

Mailing Address

232 Bay State Road

Department of Anthropology

Boston University

Boston, MA 02215


laglow 'at' BU 'dot' edu

Glowacki 'at' fas 'dot' harvard 'dot' edu