View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Durham, UK
  • | 2 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Dawson Building, Science Site, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
Restricted access

Abstract

Anthropology was originally conceived as a bridge between the natural and social sciences. Its remit was to fill in the gaps in knowledge about human history between the emergence of our species and the appearance of the first civilizations in written history. However, this project soon became embroiled in a destructive debate between “evolutionists” and “diffusionists”. The evolutionists believed that cross-cultural similarities in social organisation, subsistence technology, etc. were independently discovered by societies as they progressed toward higher stages of civilization. The diffusionists, on the other hand, argued that most cultural innovations were invented only once and spread from their point of origin through migration or contact between societies. While the diffusionists ultimately won that debate, their critique of classical social evolutionism did not extend to Darwinian approaches to culture and were in fact highly compatible with the latter. The failure of Darwinian theory to take root in social anthropology can be explained by a critique of diffusionism launched by Boas and his followers, which has only recently been challenged. Modern phylogenetic analysis of culture provides a new approach for resolving the evolutionist-diffusionist debate, and promises to deliver the still unfulfilled goals of the Victorian founders of anthropology.

  • J. J. Bachofen 1967 Myth, Religion, and Mother Right [Das Mutterrecht] Routledge & Kegan Paul London.

  • H. Balfour 1889 On the structure and affinities of the composite bow The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 19 220 50.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Bloch M. Bloch 2005 Where did anthropology go? Essays in Cultural Transmission Berg New York 1 19.

  • F. Boas 1940 Race, Language and Culture University of Chicago Press Chicago.

  • B. Buchanan M. Collard 2007 Investigating the peopling of North America through cladistic analyses of Early Paleo-Indian projectile points Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26 366 393.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Collard S.J. Shennan J.J. Tehrani 2006 Branching, blending and the evolution of cultural similarities and differences among human populations Evolution and Human Behavior 27 169 184.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Darwin, C. (1837): First Notebook on the Transmutation of Species.

  • C. Darwin 2005 The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex Penguin Classics London.

  • A. Desmond J. Moore 2009 Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins Allen Lane London.

  • W.H. Durham 1992 Applications of evolutionary culture theory Annual Review of Anthropology 21 331 55.

  • G. Elliot Smith 1911 The Ancient Egyptians and the Origin of Civilization Harper and Brother London.

  • L. Fortunato C. Holden R. Mace 2006 From bridewealth to dowry? A Bayesian estimation of ancestral states of marriage transfers in Indo-European groups Human Nature 17 335 376.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • F. Gil-White 2001 Are ethnic groups biological “species” to the human brain? Current Anthropology 42 515 554.

  • R. Gray Q. Atkinson 2003 Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin Nature 426 435 439.

  • R. Gray F. Jordan 2000 Language trees support the express-train sequence of Austronesian expansion Nature 405 1052 1055.

  • S.J. Greenhill T.E. Currie R.D. Gray 2009 Does horizontal transmission invalidate cultural phylogenies? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276 2299 2306.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. Henrich R. Boyd 1998 The evolution of conformist transmission and between-group differences Evolution and Human Behavior 19 215 42.

  • J.G. Herder 1800 Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man Hansard London.

  • B.S. Hewlett L.L. Cavalli-Sforza 1986 Cultural transmission among Aka pygmies American Anthropologist 88 922 934.

  • C. Holden 2002 Bantu language trees reflect the spread of farming across sub-Saharan Africa: a maximum parsimony analysis Proceedings of the Royal Society B 269 793 799.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C.J. Holden R. Mace 2003 Spread of cattle led to the loss of matrilineal descent in Africa: a coevolutionary analysis Proceedings of the Royal Society B 270 2425 2433.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C.J. Holden R. Mace R. Sear 2003 Matriliny as daughter-biased investment Evolution and Human Behavior 24 99 112.

  • F. Jordan R. Gray S. Greenhill R. Mace 2009 Matrilocal residence is ancestral in Austronesian societies Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276 1957 1964.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • P. Jordan S.J. Shennan 2003 Cultural transmission, language, and basketry traditions amongst the Californian Indians Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 22 42 74.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A.L. Kroeber 1948 Anthropology: Race, Language, Culture, Psychology and Prehistory Brace New York.

  • A. Kuper 2005 The Reinvention of Primitive Society: Transformations of a Myth Routledge London.

  • A.H. Pitt Rivers 1875 On the principles of classification adopted in the arrangement of his anthropological collection now exhibited in the Bethnal Green Museum Journal of the Anthropological Institute 4 293 308.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S.J. Lycett 2007 Why is there a lack of Mode 3 Levallois technologies in East Asia? A phylogenetic test of the Movius-Schick hypothesis Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26 541 575.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S.J. Lycett 2009 Are Victoria West cores ‘proto-Levallois’? A phylogenetic assessment Journal of Human Evolution 56 2 175 191.

  • H.S. Maine 1861 Ancient Law John Murray London.

  • J.H. Moore 1994 Putting anthropology back together again: The ethnogenetic critique of cladistic theory American Anthropologist 96 370 96.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • H.L. Morgan 1877 Ancient Society: Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization Holt New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M.J. O'Brien R.L. Lyman 2003 Cladistics and Archaeology University of Utah Press Salt Lake City.

  • K. Rexová D. Frynta J. Zrzavy 2003 Cladistic analysis of languages: Indo-European classification based on lexicostatistical data Cladistics 19 120 127.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • W.H.R. Rivers 1914 The History of Melanesian Society Cambridge University Press Cambridge.

  • D. Rogers M. Feldman P. Ehrlich 2009 Inferring population histories using cultural data Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276 3835 43.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rousseau, J.J. (1762): Du Contrat Social. Amsterdam.

  • A. Schleicher 1869 Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language J. C. Hotten London.

  • S.J. Shennan J. Steele 1999 Cultural learning in hominids: A behavioural ecological approach H.O. Box K.R. Gibson Mammalian Social Learning: Comparative and Ecological Perspectives Cambridge University Press Cambridge 367 388.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C. Skelton 2008 Using methods of phylogenetic systematics to reconstruct the Linear B script Archaeometry 50 158 176.

  • G. Stocking 1968 Race, Culture and Evolution University of Chicago Press Chicago.

  • J. Tehrani M. Collard 2002 Investigating cultural evolution through biological phylogenetic analyses of Turkmen textiles Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 21 443 463.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J.J. Tehrani M. Collard 2009 On the relationship between interindividual and populationlevel cultural diversity: A case study of weaving in Iranian tribal populations Evolution and Human Behavior 30 286 300.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tehrani, J.J., Collard, M. & Shennan, S.J. (in press): The cophylogeny of populations and cultures: Reconstructing the evolution of Iranian tribal craft traditions using trees and jungles. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J.J. Tehrani F. Riede 2008 Towards and archaeology of pedagogy: Learning, teaching and the generation of material culture traditions World Archaeology 40 316 331.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • I. Temkin 2004 The evolution of the Baltic Psaltery: A case for phyloorganology The Galpin Society Journal 57 219 230.

  • I. Temkin N. Eldredge 2007 Phylogenetics and material culture evolution Current Anthropology 48 146 153.

  • J.E. Terrell 1988 History as a family tree, history as a tangled bank Antiquity 62 642 57.

  • E. Tylor 1871 Primitive Culture John Murray London.

  • E. Tylor 1881 Anthropology: An Introduction to the Study of Man and Civilization Appleton New York.

  • E.B. Tylor 1889 On a method of investigating the development of institutions; applied to laws of marriage and descent Man 18 245 272.

  • L. White 1959 The Evolution of Culture McGraw Hill New York.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 35 35 3
Full Text Views 9 7 0
PDF Downloads 7 4 0