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From the urban jungle to the Amazon jungle

Dr. R. Brian Ferguson’s research centers on warfare, seeking to understand the biological and cultural causes of human conflict. A self-described historical anthropologist, he is an expert in the anthropology of war, including ethnic conflicts, tribal warfare, the impact of expanding states on indigenous war patterns and the collapse of states. His 1995 book, Yanomami Warfare: A Political History, challenges popular assumptions about the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon, and has sparked debate within his field.

Ferguson leads the Working Group on Political Violence, War and Peace at Rutgers’ Center for Global Change and Governance, which brings together scholars and experts in public forums.

Ferguson’s other area of interest, the cultural history of the New York City Police, is the subject of one of his courses, and one of his texts is the book Gangs of New York, which was made into a popular 2002 film. As part of that course, Ferguson takes students on an extensive walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy, visiting many of the sites referenced by the film. Ferguson, however, provides his students with historically accurate information on the gangs of that era and their violent power struggles, and explains how that street violence eventually evolved into organized crime.

Ferguson’s work in the classroom has been recognized by students and administrators alike; he was honored with the Scholar-Teacher Award in 2002, and the Henry J. Browne Award for Excellence in Teaching a decade earlier.

Ferguson holds undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Columbia University.

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Wach a video of Ferguson's talk at the The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford in spring 2013.

 

 

Photo by Leslie E. Farragher