Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Photo of Roosevelt, Anna Curtenius

Anna Curtenius Roosevelt, PhD

Professor, UIC Distinguished Professor



Building & Room:



1007 W. Harrison Street

Office Phone:

(312) 996-3046


I am a four-field anthropologist interested in social and biological evolution, human-environment interaction, and human rights.   My current research in lowland South America and Central Africa focuses on the evolution of Pleistocene preceramic cultures in the tropical forests.  I'm also studying the history of complex societies in the Congo basin and role of covert NATO interventions in the transition to independence in the countries of the former Belgian Congo.  In the Orinoco for my dissertation I discovered early Formative cultures who adopted maize, which became a staple in later chiefdom societies there.  My archaeological research in the Brazilian Amazon funded by NSF, NEH, and NEA showed that the basin had been occupied since 13,000 years ago.  My excavations with students from UIC and other universities, funded by Fulbright grants, also uncovered the earliest pottery of the Americas in sedentary fishing villages 9000 years ago.  The excavations helped reveal the social organization of later moundbuilding societies on Marajo Island and in the Santarem area.  During my curatorship at the Indian Museum I organized several major exhibitions, and later served as a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago.  Since 1994 I've been a Professor of Anthropology at UIC, where I also serve as a Faculty Fellow of the Honors College. I've authored or co-authored ten books and more than 100 scientific articles.

Selected Grants

Wings Trust, Field Research Grant, PI

Fulbright Commission, Intensive Field Course in Environmental Archaeology, PI

Fulbright Commission, Senior Research Award, PI

National Endowment for the Humanities, Research Grant, PI

National Science Foundation, Research Grant, PI

National Science Foundation, Cooperative Science Research Grant, Co-PI

National Endowment for the Arts, Fellowship for Museum Professionals, PI

Selected Publications

2021 Amazon paleoenvironment.  In Memoria, Cultura Material e Sensibilidade: Estudos em Homenagem a Pedro Paulo Funari, edited by Alexandre Guida Navarro and Raquel dos Santos Funari. Jundiai, BR: Paco Editorial. Pp. 139-181.

2021 Ancient Civilizations of the Amazon/Civilizacoes Antigas da Amazonia.  Sao Luis, Brazil: Universidade Federal do Maranhao. (First Author with Alexandre Guida Navarro).

2020 Culpability for violence in the Congo: Lessons from the crisis of 1960-1965.  In Human Conflict from Neanderthals to the Samburu: A Crosscultural Study of Webs of Violence, edited by William P. Kiblinger.  New York: Springer.  Pp. 105-174.

2019  The Warao of the Orinoco delta.  In A Civilizacao Lacustre de a Baixada Maranhense: Da Prehistorica dos Campos Inundaveis aos Dias Atuais, edited by Alexandre Guida Navarro.  Sao Luis, Maranhao: Universidade Federal do Maranhao.  Pp. 231-296.

2016  Method and theory of early farming: The Orinoco and Caribbean coasts of South America. Earth Science Research 6(1):1-42.

2013 Amazonia and the anthropocene: 13,000 Years of human influence in a rainforest. The Anthropocene 4:69-87.

2011 Behind the veil: Culpability in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Congonova 4:1-11.

2010 Amazo’hommes: Sciences de l’Homme et Sciences de la Nature en Amazonie. Ibis Rouge Editions, Cayenne, FG.  Pp. 414.  (Second co-editor with E. Baronne Visigalli)

1996 Paleoindian cave dwellers in the Amazon: The peopling of  the Americas. Science 272: 373-384. (first author with  M. Lima  Costa,  C. Lopes Machado, M. Michab, N.  Mercier,  H. Valladas,  J. Feathers, W. Barnett, M. Imazio da  Silveira, A. Henderson, J. Sliva, B. Chernoff, D. Reese, J.A. Holman, N. Toth, and K. Schick)

1994  Amazonian Indians from Prehistory to the Present: Anthropological Perspectives. Tucson:  University of Arizona Press. (Editor)

Service to Community

2017-2018, Nominator, MacArthur Foundation
2004-2015, Human Rights Watch, Chicago Committee, Founding Member
2001-2004, Nominating Committee, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2000-2003, Descartes Prize Jury, European Commission, Brussels
1989-1992, Editor, Ethics Column, Newsletter, American Anthropological Association

Professional Leadership

Associate Editor, Journal of Anthropological Research, 2015-present

Scientific Committee, Amazon Park of Guayane, 2008-2010

Scientific Council, Institute for Amazonian Research, CNRS, 2004-2006

Board of Directors, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1994-1998

Notable Honors

2021, University Scholar Award, University of Illinois at Chicago

1999, Gold Medal, Society of Women Geographers

1992, Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1988, Five-Year Fellowshp, MacArthur Foundation


PhD, Columbia University, 1977
MA Columbia University, 1974
BA with Distinction, Stanford University, 1968

Professional Memberships

American Anthropological Association (Fellow)
Society of American Archaeology

Selected Presentations

2022, Distinguished Professor Public Lecture, " Race, Environment, and Culture in Early Human Evolution, University of Illinois at Chicago
2020, Invited Public Lecture, "Human Environment Interaction in the Amazon",
Chicago Council on Science and Technology, 2020
2015, Keynote Public Lecture, "The Amazon and Congo-Guinean Forests: The Epistemogy of Long-term Human-Environment Interaction", Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers

Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits

“Les Habitants de l’Eau: Autres Histoires de Guyane”, 2011, Aquarium Tropical, Paris and Cayenne (Scientific Committee)
"Prehistory of Amazonia, the Northern Andes, and the Caribbean", 1989-present. South American Hall, American Museum of Natural History, Guest Curator
"Introductory Exhibition", 1999, Centre d'Aceuil, Doli Lodge, Dzanga/Sangha Park, Bayanga, Central African Republic, Consultant
"Star Gods of the Ancient Americas", 1982-84.  American Museum of Natural History. Adler Planetarium, Chicago.  Museum of Natural Science, Houston.
National Endowment for the Humanities, Project Director
“Where the Jaguars are Exalted: Animals in the Art of Ancient Central America", 1980. Museum of the American Indian, New York (Project Director).
"The Ancestors: Native Artisans of the Americas", 1979-82. U.S. Customs House, New York.  California Academy of Sciences, Museum of Chinese History, Shanghai Museum.  National Endowment for the Humanities (Co-Curator).
"Echoes of the Drums", 1978.  U.S. Custom House, New York. American Indian cultures. National Endowment for the Arts (Co-Curator)