The 2022 winner of the Richerson Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis is Manvir Singh of the Institute for Advanced Study, Toulouse. Manvir was presented with the award at the 2022 CES Conference in Aarhus, Denmark.


Manvir Singh, winner of the 2022 Richerson Award


Manvir’s thesis, “The Foundations of Shamanism and Witchcraft”, impressed the evaluation committee, who noted that:

“The committee was impressed by his beautiful thesis which presented a comprehensive mixed methods study of shamanism and witchcraft. We found his thesis especially readable and engaging while providing a detailed, richly ethnographic, and multifaceted investigation of the key topics. In particular, I really loved the dedication to his Mentawai friends and the photo montage.”


The Richerson Award is offered to a recent graduate who has produced outstanding doctoral research in the field of cultural evolution. It is named after Peter J Richerson, a key figure in shaping and guiding the field of cultural evolution over several decades and the first CES President. The award is offered once every two years thanks to a generous donation from Peter Richerson.

Manvir receives a $300 award, a three-year CES membership, and a waiver of registration fees for the 2022 CES conference.


We also congratulate the two other finalists for the 2022 Richerson Award:

Alba Motes Rodrigo (University of Lausanne), whose thesis “Experimental approaches to the study of early hominin technology and cognition using great apes as behavioural models” led the committee to comment:

“We found this thesis to robustly combine detailed theoretical knowledge with innovative methodological development and solid empirical results. We thought her work on chimp and orangutan behavioral variation especially laudable.”


Alba Motes Rodrigo, finalist for the 2022 Richerson Award


Mason Youngblood (Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology), whose thesis “From Psychology to Phylogeny: Bridging Levels of Analysis in Cultural Evolution” received this comment from the committee:

“The committee thought his thesis was an innovative and broad piece of work that tackled everything from the cultural transmission of music, to radicalisation of the right wing, and to tracking songbird populations. We especially appreciated the meta-analysis of the discipline of cultural evolution.”


Mason Youngblood, finalist for the 2022 Richerson Award