Christopher Boehm (1931–2021) was an American cultural anthropologist with a subspecialty in primatology, who researched conflict resolution, altruism, the evolution of morality, and feuding and warfare. He was also the Director of the Jane Goodall Research Center at University of Southern California, a multi-media interactive database focusing on the social and moral behavior of world hunter gatherers. Boehm died on November 23, 2021 at the age of 90.
Boehm received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1972, and was later trained in ethological field techniques (1983).
Boehm did field work with human societies such as the Navajo People and the Rovca Tribes of Montenegro or Upper Morača River Tribe, as well as primates such as wild chimpanzees, focusing on questions of morality in an evolutionary context.
After analyzing data from 48 human societies spread across the globe, ranging from small hunting and gathering bands to more sedentary chiefdoms, Boehm suggested that all human societies likely practiced egalitarianism before the domestication of plants and animals, and that most of the time they did so very successfully.
Boehm identified the following mechanisms ensuring the what he called a "Reverse Dominance Hierarchy": Public Opinion, Criticism and Ridicule, Disobedience, and Extreme Sanctions. Further characteristics include ambivalence towards leaders and anticipation of domination.
Boehm won the Stirling Prize in Psychological Anthropology, and was a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a fellowship at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.