Cultural evolution of kinship diversity: the micro and macro of talking about family (Professor Fiona Jordan, University of Bristol)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 13th February 2020
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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Humans have a variety of mating and marriage systems, and societies vary in the ways in which they classify family. This variation is not without limits, and explaining constraints and diversity invites a multi-level evolutionary perspective. In this talk Fiona will describe the VariKin project, a multidisciplinary approach to understand the patterned variation in human kinship systems. The team brings together theory and method across anthropology, linguistics, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and computational methods. They have results from large cross-cultural analyses using comparative phylogenetic methods, studies of the patterns of frequency of use in different language varieties, and insights into child acquisition and use from fieldwork in a Datooga community in Tanzania. Our framework takes inspiration from Tinbergen's four questions towards illuminating a longstanding enquiry into human variability.