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Melvin Konner Edit Profile

anthropologist , educator , writer

Melvin Konner, American anthropologist, educator, writer. Witness testifying United States Senate Subcommittee Education & Labor, Washington, 1993; witness offering testimony United States Senate Committee Finance, 1994.


Konner, Melvin was born on August 30, 1946 in Brooklyn. Son of Irving and Hannah Levin Konner.


Bachelor, Bklyn College, City University of New York, 1966. Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1973. Doctor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 1985.


He spent two years doing fieldwork among the Kalahari San or Bushmen, studying infant development and the hormonal mechanism of lactational infertility. After six years on the Harvard faculty, he returned to school and received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1985. He then moved to Emory as department chair.

He has held grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation, and has been a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, and the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, Konner has stated that he lost his faith at age 17. His views on religion, however, are complex, as he has also discussed the function of counseling by chaplains in the hospital where he worked, saying that while as a scientist he did not endorse their views, as an anthropologist he recognized the value of their services.

Konner aroused some controversy in 2006 when he wrote an article contesting the claims in former US President Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter responded quoting from his December 15 press release entitled "Letter to the Jewish Citizens of America". In a lengthy follow-up letter, Konner disputed Carter's claims and called the book and its title inflammatory.

He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposium on November 2006.


  • Other Work

    • Author: (book) The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, 2nd edition, 2002 (Nominee, American Book award, 1982), The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind, Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School (Georgia Author of the Year award, 1988), Why the Reckless Survive, and Other Secrets of Human Nature. Co-author: The Paleolithic Prescription. Author: Childhood: A Multicultural Approach (tied to a Public Broadcasting Service series), Medicine at the Crossroads, Dear America: A Concerned Doctor Wants You to Know the Truth About Health Reform, (book) Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews, The Jewish Body.

      Contributor articles to professional journals, columns in newspapers.


Witness testifying United States Senate Subcommittee Education & Labor, Washington, 1993. Witness offering testimony United States Senate Committee Finance, 1994.


  • Other Interests

    Sailing, skiing, travel, poetry.


Married Ann Cale Kruger, February 26, 2005. 1 stepchild Logan Kruger. Married Marjorie Shostak, June 23, 1968 (deceased October 6, 1996).

Children: Susanna, Adam, Sarah.

Irving Konner

Hannah Levin Konner

Ann Cale Kruger

Marjorie Shostak

Susanna Konner

Adam Konner

Sarah Konner