Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Office: 106 Anthropology
- PhD, Harvard University, 1973
- MD, Harvard Medical School, 1985
- A.B. , Anthropology, CUNY, Brooklyn College, 1966
Melvin (Mel) Konner came to Emory in 1983 as the first Chair of the newly-created Department of Anthropology. He co-founded the Anthropology & Human Biology major and has been a core member of the Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology faculty since that program was founded. He is also affiliated with the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies.
Long committed to fostering the public understanding of anthropology and evolution, he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Review of Books, Newsweek, Salon.com, and many other publications both academic and general. He has testified twice at U.S. Senate hearings related to health care.
Konner is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, and received fellowships from the John Simon Guggheim Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and others. He was a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation (2000-2010) and received the John McGovern Award in Medical Humanities from the Yale School of Medicine. He was Creative Loafing’s Best Local Intellectual of 2004 and has been listed in “Who’s Who in Hell.”
* Hunting-gathering peoples
* Evolutionary anthropology
* Evolution of childhood
* Hunter-gatherer (“Paleolithic”) diets
* Human behavioral biology
* Medical anthropology
* Gender in evolutionary perspective
* Anthropology of the Jews
* Evolution of Religion
Konner did the first in-depth study of infancy among Kalahari hunter-gatherers when they were still living and raising children traditionally, probably partly reflecting conditions among our early modern human ancestors. In works such as The Evolution of Childhood (2010), Konner traces psychosocial development from birth to adulthood through neuroendocrine maturation and environmental influence, situating these complex processes in comparative, cross-cultural, and phylogenetic perspective.
Konner's years in the Kalahari also led him to help develop the "Paleolithic Diet" and to understand the health consequences of modern changes. His book The Tangled Wing was called by evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr "a beautifully written, well-balanced interpretation of human nature" and a "classic." Robert Sapolsky has called Konner "the nearest thing we have to a poet laureate of behavioral biology." The last of his eleven books, Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy, is an attempt at a 21st-century version of Ashley Montagu’s classic The Natural Superiority of Women, and argues that male supremacy as we know it is in evolutionary perspective temporary and destined to end soon. He is currently working on a book on the nature of faith.
- ANT 200/NBB 201 Foundations of Behavior
- ANT 305 The Human Brain
- ANT 333 Disease and Human Behavior
- ANT 385/585 The Evolution of Childhood
- ANT 258/JS 258 Anthropology of the Jews
- ANT 190 Freshman Seminar: Ideas about Human Nature