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Bram Tucker

UGA Arch
Associate Professor
Lab: Behavioral Ecology and Economic Decisions Laboratory

I am fascinated by the economic lives of people in rural places, where food and other resources come from the land, forest, and sea.  Rural economies are highly diversified, partially integrated into markets, and vulnerable to risk and uncertainty.  We often think of them as "traditional," and traditions are important; but they have experienced long histories of social change.  I study a range of topics related to economic choices and outcomes, having to do with culture, risk, time, perceived causality, social institutions, collective action, production, value, and inequality.  My research occurs among farmers, hunter-gatherers, and fishermen in southwestern Madagascar.  In Madagascar I work with a team of scholars from the University of Toliara, including Dr. Tsiazonera, Dr. Jaovola Tombo, Patricia Hajasoa, and Rolland Lahiniriko.

I am considering recruiting new PhDs student in 2025.  Applicants' interest should overlap with mine in at least TWO of these four domains:  THEORY (from human ecology, economic anthropology, behavioral ecology); PLACE (Madagascar, Africa); TOPICS (culture, risk, social change, choice, institutions; collective action); and METHODS (mixing qualitative and quantitative field methods).  Interested applicants, please email me a CV and describe your interests (in less than 500 words).


Research Interests:
  • Economic anthropology
  • Ecological anthropology
  • Evolutionary anthropology
  • Household livelihoods
  • Hunting and gathering
  • Agriculture
  • Risk, time, and change
  • Social institutions and collective action
  • Perceived causality
  • Ancestor veneration
  • Ethnicity
  • Inequality and poverty
  • Qualitative and quantitative ethnography
  • Madagascar
  • Africa
Selected Publications:

Tucker, B.  (2022).  Mikea, Malagasy, or hunter-gatherers?  Scale, ethnicity, and cultural groups in ethnographic description and ethnological analysis.  In T. Widlok and Dores Cruz, ed., Scale Matters: The Quality of Quantity in Human Culture and Sociality, pp. 179-204. Transcript Verlag Publishers.

Tucker, B., Ringen, E. J., Tsiazonera, Tombo, J., Hajasoa, P., Gérard, S., Lahiniriko, R. & Garçon, A. H. (2021).  Ethnic markers without ethnic conflict:  Why do interdependent Masikoro, Mikea, and Vezo of Madagascar signal their ethnic differences?  Human Nature, 32(3):529-556. 10.1007/s12110-021-09412-w

Tucker, B. (2020).  Où vivre sans boire revisited: Water and political-economic change among Mikea hunter-gatherers of southwestern Madagascar.  Economic Anthropology 7(1):22-37.

Tucker, B., & Nelson, D. R. (2017). What does economic anthropology have to contribute to studies of risk and resilience?. Economic Anthropology, 4(2), 161-172. doi:10.1002/sea2.12085

Tucker, B. (2017).  From risk and time preferences to cultural models of causality: On the challenges and possibilities of field experiments, with examples from rural southwestern Madagascar.  Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 64: 61-114.

Tucker, B., Tsiazonera, Tombo, J., Hajasoa, P., & Nagnisaha, C. (2015).  Ecological and cosmological coexistence thinking in a hypervariable environment:  Causal models of economic success and failure among farmers, foragers, and fishermen of southwestern Madagascar.  Frontiers in Psychology, Cognitive Science 6:1-16.


2017 - 2023:  National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology.  “Testing Multiple Approaches for Understanding Adaptive Functions of Cultural Institutions” (BCS 1733917).

2017:  Wenner-Gren Foundation (with Dr. Kristina Douglass, Columbia University):  “Testing models of cultural change through archaeological survey and oral history among Mikea forager-agropastoralists of SW Madagascar.” 

2007-2009:  National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology:  “Subsistence decision-making in southwestern Madagascar:  Coping with poverty or social learning?”  (BCS 0650412).



PhD, Anthropology, University of North Carolina, 2001

Articles Featuring Bram Tucker

Anthropology students at the University of Georgia recently presented their research at the annual CURO Symposium, organized by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. Given the opportunity to communicate their own research to our broader community…

Dr. Bram Tucker, an associate professor at the Department of Anthropology, spoke with the UGA Office of Research to share his personal and intellectual evolution that led him to become a cultural…

Associate Professor, Dr. Bram Tucker, along with co-authors: Erik J.

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