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Loretta A. Cormier

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University Hall (UH) 3131
(205) 975-6526

Research and Teaching Interests: Historical ecology, ethnoprimatology, medical anthropology, primate zoonoses, and disaster preparedness with work with indigenous Amazonians (Awá-Guajá), Native Americans (Navajo, Choctaw), Lau Fijians, and US populations

Office Hours: By appointment


  • BS, University of Florida, Nursing
  • MA, University of Alabama/University of Alabama at Birmingham, Anthropology
  • PhD, Tulane University, Anthropology

I am a cultural anthropologist with research in a wide variety of areas, but all are connected to historical ecology. As a Fulbright scholar, I worked with the Awá-Guajá, a group of Amazonian hunter-gatherers examining their complex relationship with local monkeys – a major food item, but considered quasi-human and incorporated into their kinship and cosmological systems (Kinship with Monkeys 2003). In the area of ethnoprimatology, I’ve also looked at infectious disease, first with host-switching of malaria parasites (The Ten Thousand Year Fever 2011) and later broader host-switching patterns across diseases and primates (Primate Zoonoses: Culture Change and Emerging Disease 2017, with Pauline Jolly).

I have collaborated in several projects with colleagues in the UAB School of Public Health related to disaster research, focusing on radiation events (dirty bombs) to develop effective emergency messaging for diverse populations with funding from the CDC and Homeland Security. From there, I collaborated with a colleague in social work (Lisa Baker) researching best practices for professionals working with vulnerable populations in disasters (Disasters and Vulnerable Populations: Evidence-Based Practice for the Helping Professions 2014). Contributions to teaching include three textbooks and a reader: Introductory Cultural Anthropology: An Interactive Approach (2010, 2011, 2019 with Sharyn Jones), Humankind (2011, with Sharyn Jones), Language and Culture in Everyday Life (forthcoming with Jordan Kiper), and Human Sexuality: Biology, Culture, and Human Rights (forthcoming with Courtney Andrews). In addition, Sharyn Jones and I co-authored a book on evolution, culture, and sexuality (The Domesticated Penis 2015).

While at UAB, I served for a number of years as the tribal anthropologist for the MOWA-Choctaw in the context of assisting them in applying for federal recognition. My work involved ethnohistorical research for documentation required by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and for congressional testimony. Service has also included developing the nonprofit ANTHRO-Teach (with Sharyn Jones) associated with a historical ecology field school in Fiji. When ANTHRO-Teach was active, we trained students to give presentations on topics in anthropology (including Fiji work) in local schools and community groups.

Scholars @ UAB Profile

  • Recent Courses
    • ANTH 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
    • ANTH 120: Language and Culture
    • ANTH 445/645: Medical Anthropology
    • ANTH 447/647: Advanced Peace Studies
    • ANTH 450/650: Advanced Cultural Anthropology{/slider}
  • Select Publications
    • L. A. Cormier and S.R. Jones, The Domesticated Penis: How Womanhood Shaped Manhood (University of Alabama Press, 2015)
    • L. R. Baker and L. A. Cormier, Disasters and Vulnerable Populations: Evidence-Based Practice for the Helping Professions (Springer, 2014).
    • L. R. Baker and L. A. Cormier,Baker, "Disaster preparedness and families of children with special needs: a geographic comparison," Journal of Community Health 38 (No. 1, 2013):106-12.
    • L. A. Cormier, The Ten-Thousand Year Fever: Rethinking Human and Wild Primate Malaria (Historical Ecology Series, Left Coast Press, 2011).
    • L. A. Cormier and S. R. Jones, Introductory Cultural Anthropology: An Interactive Approach (National Social Science Press, 2010; CD, ebook, and hardcopy formats).
    • L. A. Cormier, "The historical ecology of human and wild primate malarias in the subsistence and symbolism of indigenous lowland South America," Diversity 2 (No. 2, 2010):256-80.
    • L. A. Cormier and B. Urbani, "The ethnoprimatology of the spider monkey: from past to present," in Spider Monkeys: The Biology and Behavior of the Genus Ateles, C. Campbell, ed. (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology, Cambridge University Press, 2008), 377-403.
    • L. A. Cormier, "Between the ship and the bulldozer: Historical ecology of Guaja subsistence, sociality, and symbolism after 1500," in Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology: Studies from the Neotropical Lowlands,B. Balee and C. Erickson, eds. (Historical Ecology Series, Columbia University Press, 2006), 341-63.
    • L. A. Cormier, "Um aroma no ar: Ecologia historica das plantas anti-fantasma entre os Guaja da Amazonia*,"Mana: Estudos de Anthropologia Social 11 (2005):129-54. (*“A scent on the breeze: The historical ecology of ghosts plants among the Guaja of Amazonia”)
    • L. A. Cormier, Kinship with Monkeys: The Guaja Foragers of Eastern Amazonia (Historical Ecology Series, Columbia University Press, 2003).{/slider}
  • Academic Distinctions & Professional Societies
    • Humanities Scholar, Alabama Humanities Foundation (2011, 2010, 2005)
    • Fulbright Scholar to Brazil (1996)
    • Science Education Chair, Alabama Academy of Science (2005-2007)
    • Science Education Vice Chair, Alabama Academy of Science (2004-2005)
    • Program Chair: 47th Annual Southern Anthropological Society Meetings, “Peace, Justice, and Ecology” (2012)
    • Tribal Anthropologist for the MOWA-Choctaw
    • Secretary-Treasurer for the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (2005-2007)
    • Secretary-Treasurer for ANTHRO-Teach non-profit (2010-present)
    • Editorial Boards (former): Tipiti: Journal for the Society of the Anthropology of Lowland South America, Journal of Primatology
    • Awards for Research/Educational Projects: Alabama Humanities Foundation, Alabama State Council on the Arts, American Ethnological Society, American Society of Primatologists, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Homeland Security, Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, National Science Foundation, Tinker Foundation, UAB-Advance, UAB Faculty Development Grant, UAB Scholarship of Teaching, UAB-QEP
    • Professional Societies: Alabama Academy of Science, American Anthropological Association, National Social Science Association, Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, Southern Anthropological Association {/slider}
  • Student Organizations