Agustín Fuentes

Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology

Agustín Fuentes with a macaque

I research because I love to ask “why.” I teach because knowledge is something to be shared and cultivated. I do anthropology because I’m driven to find out what makes humans tick. The University of Notre Dame is where these passions fuse and flourish.

Some of my main areas of research at present are race and racism and aggression and warfare. I look at the biology of violence, the patterns in our DNA, the behavior of our closest relatives and distant ancestors, and the actions of humans today. These investigations reveal that race is not biology, but that racism is powerful, and that while humans have a great capacity for war and violence, we have an even larger one for cooperation and peace.

At ND I am stimulated to push past the basic data to find out what such insights mean for society. Here, we are encouraged to take the knowledge generated by research into the classroom and out into the world beyond the University—not always an easy or comfortable task. The opportunity to ask difficult questions and unpack the complicated, challenging, and sometimes politically charged answers is what makes me love Notre Dame.

Recently I’ve been exploring the interface of anthropology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and theology, seeing if conversations across faith, science, and the human experience can work. It turns out they do! From these exciting exchanges and projects our research team is discovering profound insights into how, and why, human bodies and minds contain deep and amazing capacities to build community, to imagine, to hope, and to create change.

The experience of working with a sincere and vibrant community of scholars, students, and staff in order to make knowledge matter is why I am at Notre Dame.

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