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Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past

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Social DNA

Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past

M. Kay Martin

288 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-007-2 $130.00/£92.00 Hb Published (October 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78920-008-9 eBook

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“This book makes tremendous efforts to get away from typical prejudices about human nature and society, whether from the middle ages, the scientists of the 19th Century, or the rationalists of the mid-20th… This overview of many recent findings in a range of evolutionary research is potentially a game-changer.” • Wendy James, University of Oxford

“Clearly and accessibly written… [this book] makes a valuable contribution to current bridge-building efforts across two unfortunate divisions within anthropology: that between UK and US scholarly traditions, and that between bio-evolutionary and sociocultural models.” • Hillary Callan, Director Emerita, Royal Anthropological Institute


What set our ancestors off on a separate evolutionary trajectory was the ability to flex their reproductive and social strategies in response to changing environmental conditions. Exploring new cross-disciplinary research that links this capacity to critical changes in the organization of the primate brain, Social DNA presents a new synthesis of ideas on human social origins – challenging models that trace our beginnings to traits shaped by ancient hunting economies, or to genetic platforms shared with contemporary apes.

M. Kay Martin has a diversified research, planning, and management background in the academic, public, and private sectors; she has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has since held executive posts in applied anthropology, environmental research, resource conservation, and other fields. She was the principal author of Female of the Species (1975, Columbia University Press) and has also published ethnohistorical and cross-cultural studies on foraging societies.

Subject: General Anthropology Archaeology


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Some Givens

Chapter 1. Perspectives on Anisogamy
Chapter 2. First Families
Chapter 3. Paleoecology and Emergence of Genus Homo
Chapter 4. Paleolithic Dinner Pairings: Red or White?
Chapter 5. Signature Hominin Traits
Chapter 6. Kinship and Paleolithic Legends
Chapter 7. Kinship as Social Technology


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