Kinship And Human Origins

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Mark Dyble

Kinship And Human Origins

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 18:45

The social organization of mobile hunter-gatherers has several derived features, including low within-camp relatedness and fluid meta-groups. Although these features have been proposed to have provided the selective context for the evolution of human hyper-cooperation and cumulative culture, how such a distinctive social system may have emerged remains unclear. I present an agent-based model suggesting that, even if all individuals in a community seek to live with as many kin as possible, within-camp relatedness is reduced if men and women have equal influence in selecting camp members. This model closely approximates observed patterns of co-residence among Agta and Mbendjele BaYaka hunter-gatherers. The results suggest that pair-bonding along with increased gender egalitarianism in human evolutionary history may have had a transformative effect on human social organization.

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Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.

Next evening class

Chris Knight

A Plains Indian Myth: When Women Lost Their Power
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

'The Wives of the Sun and Moon' is one of the key myths of Claude Levi-Strauss' monumental study, Mythologiques. This evening will begin with a story-telling followed by a workshop and class discussion to decode the message of the myth. Originally, according to the Arapaho Indians of North American Plains, marriage was not a fixed state but a periodic alternation between one kind of relationship and another, a once-a-month honeymoon followed each month by divorce and re-union with kin. Everything started going badly wrong when hunting and gathering gave way to gardening, the lunar calendar gave way to a seasonal/solar rhythm - and womankind became subject to wedlock as a permanent state.