John Kantner (PhD, RPA) joined the University of North Florida in August 2013 as the Assistant Vice President for Research, and was appointed Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School in June 2014. Previously, he was Vice President for Academic & Institutional Advancement at the School for Advanced Research, an independent research center for the social sciences and humanities. From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Kantner was a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology & Geography at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he achieved the rank of associate professor with tenure prior to his departure.
Dr. Kantner is an anthropological archaeologist with a broad background in the social sciences. He received his doctorate from the University of California–Santa Barbara, where he studied archaeology, anthropology, geography, geochemistry, and evolutionary theory. His research focuses on the archaeology of ancient societies, with a particular interest in the processes by which complex social and political regional institutions emerged from communities of comparatively simple horticulturists. His research is explicitly comparative, and he has collaborated on projects throughout the United States, as well as in Costa Rica and Peru. In addition to several books, Dr. Kantner's research appears in journals such as Antiquity, Human Nature, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Journal of Anthropological Research, Journal of Archaeological Research, Journal of Archaeological Science, and Historical Archaeology.
Dr. Kantner's research is broadly focused on how cooperative and competitive behaviors stimulate increased sociopolitical complexity. Much of this work is derived from principles of evolutionary theory, especially through the specific areas of decision theory and human behavioral ecology, which look at processes of individual decision-making within group contexts. A particular interest of Dr. Kantner's is how biological evolution has shaped human decision-making to serve as an efficient proxy for natural selection, albeit, and most importantly, one that is easily distorted through cultural learning and readily manipulated by self-aware humans.
A particular arena of human activity that provides an excellent opportunity—and fascinating challenge—for applying these ideas is in the evolution of leadership. Considerations of social context, political behavior, and economic opportunities and limitations are all essential for understanding how the many different forms of leadership develop, making this research truly anthropological and interdisciplinary. Select the links at the left to learn more about this area of research.
To explore ideas about human behavior, the majority of Dr. Kantner's efforts are concentrated on understanding the development of the Chaco tradition of the American Southwest, which developed around the pilgrimage center of Chaco Canyon in what is now northwestern New Mexico. Dr. Kantner currently runs the Lobo Mesa Archaeological Project (LMAP), an extensive investigation of a 2,500-km2 area south of Chaco Canyon. LMAP is employing several different approaches—including regional analysis and ceramic analysis—to identify evidence of competition, leadership, and factionalism in Chaco-era Puebloan villages. Because many of the analytical approaches rely heavily on spatial information, LMAP takes advantage of the data management and analysis capabilities of Geographic Information Science. Select the links at the left to learn more about this area of research.