Scott Atran is an anthropologist known for his work on the importance of “devoted actors” in cultural, political and religious conflicts, and for studies on indigenous environmental management and the transcultural cognitive foundations of biological classification. Atran was born in New York City and grew up near Baltimore. He received a BA from Columbia College, an MA in social relations from Johns Hopkins in 1973, and a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in 1984 after time spent as a Fulbright Scholar in the Middle East and a researcher at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris. Atran is co-founder and science director at Artis International, a research institute conducting field studies in distressed world regions and developing online tools for managing socio-political conflict and competition. He is co-founder of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict and Research Fellow for the Changing Character of War Centre at Oxford University; Research Professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and Institute for Social Research; and Emeritus Research Director in Anthropology at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). He is a member of the Cognitive Science Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Atran's research focuses on causes and solutions to intergroup conflict, environmental disputes and management, malign influence operations, and Great Power competition. He has done fieldwork with terrorists and other violent actors, as well as with political leaders and Native American peoples. He has helped to set up indigenously managed forest reserves and has worked with, and addressed, the UN Security Council on problems of "Youth, Peace, and Security."

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Primary Section

Section 51: Anthropology

Secondary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences