Introducing the Omo Valley Research Project

Zachary Garfield

September 17, 2019, 12:45–13:45


Room MS001

IAST Lunch Seminar


The opportunity to observe groups of people living under more “traditional” socioeconomic and political systems is rapidly disappearing. Collecting behavioral data from culturally diverse populations should be among the top priorities for scientists interested in a broad understanding of humanity. The Omo Valley in Southwest Ethiopia is among the most culturally diverse areas in the world. There are several distinct ethnic groups that rely on a variety of subsistence strategies within a relatively similar ecology. The Omo Valley Research Project (OVRP) is a new initiative by Co-PIs Luke Glowacki and Zach Garfield. The goal is to develop a cohesive research infrastructure across multiple field sites among culturally distinct populations. Specific interests include social organization, ecology, inequality, acculturation, market integration, economic livelihoods and subsistence strategies, pressures associated with conflict and cooperation, and how variation in these domains associate with health outcomes. A major goal is to facilitate collaborative interdisciplinary projects. Therefore, our baseline data and infrastructure should be able to accommodate a broad range of methodologies and research questions. How can we leverage this cultural diversity to best learn about human variation? What challenges have we overlooked? What data are we not thinking about? We seek input from diverse scholars in developing a productive, long-term research project in the Omo.