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Human Origins: Contributions from Social Anthropology

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Volume 30

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Human Origins

Contributions from Social Anthropology

Edited by Camilla Power, Morna Finnegan and Hilary Callan
Afterword by Alan Barnard

364 pages, 6 illus., 2 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-378-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78533-426-9 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (December 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-379-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“As a biological anthropologist, I welcomed the opportunity to read this book, and found it to be thoughtful and relevant to my work and interests. I will certainly encourage my colleagues to read it.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“…makes a substantial contribution to what Alan Barnard in his afterword refers to as ‘a new configuration of anthropological ideas,’ a ‘larger’ and more comprehensive anthropology. The volume's two major goals are to reengage social anthropology with research on human origins and, in so doing, to apply insights from sociocultural studies to evolutionary interpretations of symbolic culture, sociality, and cultural variation.” • Choice

“This work provides an important link between social anthropology and evolutionary anthropology, developing a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding human origins.” • Dimitri Bondarenko, The Russian Academy of Sciences


Human Origins brings together new thinking by social anthropologists and other scholars on the evolution of human culture and society. No other discipline has more relevant expertise to consider the emergence of humans as the symbolic species. Yet, social anthropologists have been conspicuously absent from debates about the origins of modern humans. These contributions explore why that is, and how social anthropology can shed light on early kinship and economic relations, gender politics, ritual, cosmology, ethnobiology, medicine, and the evolution of language.

Camilla Power is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of East London. Her research has focused on the evolutionary emergence of symbolic culture, language, art and religion.

Morna Finnegan is an independent researcher who has published on the sexual egalitarianism of Central African hunter-gatherers, with a particular focus on the relationship between ritual and political domains.

Hilary Callan is Director Emerita of the Royal Anthropological Institute, having served as Director from 2000 to 2010. She has held various academic positions in anthropology and international education.

Subject: Anthropology (General)


Camilla Power, Morna Finnegan and Hilary Callan

Chapter 1. Forty Years On: Biosocial Anthropology Revisited
Hilary Callan

Chapter 2. Rethinking the Relationship between Studies of Ethnobiological Knowledge and the Evolution of Human Cultural Cognition
Roy Ellen

Chapter 3. Toward a Theory of Everything
Chris Knight and Jerome Lewis

Chapter 4. Sexual Insult and Female Militancy
Shirley G. Ardener

Chapter 5. Who Sees the Elephant?  Sexual Egalitarianism in Social Anthropology's Room
Morna Finnegan

Chapter 6. From Metaphor to Symbols and Grammar: The Cumulative Cultural Evolution of Language
Andrew D. M. Smith and Stefan Hoefler

Chapter 7. Reconstructing a Source Cosmology for African Hunter-gatherers
Camilla Power

Chapter 8. Sounds in the Night: Ritual Bells, Therianthropes, and Eland Relations among the Hadza
Thea Skaanes

Chapter 9. Human Physiology, San Shamanic Healing and the ‘Cognitive Revolution’
Chris Low

Chapter 10. Rain Serpents in Northern Australia and Southern Africa: a Common Ancestry?
Ian Watts

Chapter 11. Bedouin Matrilineality Revisited
Suzanne E. Joseph

Chapter 12. ‘From Lucy to Language: The Archaeology of the Social Brain’ An Open Invitation for Social Anthropology to Join the Evolutionary Debate
Wendy James

Alan Barnard


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