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BioAnth Courses: B15 – Friends, Relatives and Communities: Human Social Evolution

b15B15 – Friends, Relatives and Communities: Human Social Evolution

This paper highlights the pivotal role cooperation and sociality have played in human evolutionary history whilst also exploring the striking diversity in social structure and behaviour both within and between contemporary societies.

Cooperation is widespread throughout the natural world, but many anthropologists consider human prosocial behaviour as unparalleled. This course seeks to explain the scale and ubiquity of cooperation between genetically unrelated individuals and the evolution of our prosocial emotions and cognition. We will also consider which ecological factors best predict how societies are organised and how social network analysis can be used as an analytical tool in the study of social structure. Throughout the term ongoing debates and unresolved questions related to human social evolution will be discussed, including the relationship between religion and cooperation and the persistence of pathologies such as social anxiety and autism.

 

It may be taken as an option by:

  • students doing the Biological Anthropology Track in Part IIB of the Archaeology Tripos
  • students doing the Biological Anthropology/Archaeology Joint Track as Part IIB of the Archaeology Tripos
  • students who have completed Part IB MVST, NST, PBS or Part IIA HSPS and are doing a one-year Part II in Biological Anthropology as part of the Archaeology Tripos
  • students doing Part II PBS and NST or Part IIB Archaeology
  • NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences students as part of a Major in Human Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

 

Paper Coordinator: Dr Nikhil Chaudhary

Michaelmas Term: 14 lectures & 2 seminars
Assessment: 2 hour exam