Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University, is an uncompromising champion of the complexity of Human Niche construction.

Scientists alert to complexity in this way are often those who prefer to look at the fine detail of our world than to confront grand theories and metanarratives. Professor Fuentes is a rare creature in his determination to look at both micro and macro approaches to our species’ evolution and context. He’s also unafraid of weighing in on the questions that burst through laboratory walls and into the public eye: questions of racial or gender justice. His books include Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being and The Creative Spark: how imagination made humans exceptional.

Joining Gray Richardson to talk with Professor Fuentes is Penny Spikins, Professor of the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of York, whose work on compassion and cooperation provides a natural point of contact with Professor Fuentes. Her next book is out soon, entitled “Hidden Depths: the Palaeolithic origins of our most human emotions”.

About Agustín Fuentes

Prof Fuentes is an anthropologist at Princeston University. His research focuses on the biosocial, delving into the entanglement of biological systems with the social and cultural lives of humans, our ancestors, and a few of the other animals with whom humanity shares close relations. From chasing monkeys in jungles and cities, to exploring the lives of our evolutionary ancestors, to examining human health, behavior, and diversity across the globe, Professor Fuentes is interested in both the big questions and the small details of what makes humans and our close relations tick.

You can follow him on Twitter.


The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena was founded in 2014 to target fundamental questions of human history and evolution since the Paleolithic.