Language trees, family trees, and tree trees: Evolutionary approaches to cultural diversity

When and Where

Wednesday, May 19, 2021 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm


Professor Fiona Jordan, Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Bristol


How can we infer features of social life in the past when there are no material remains? What can language relationships tell us about differences and commonalities across cultures? How can we identify adaptive coevolution in cultural traits, as distinct from the effect of shared ancestry or cultural contact? In this talk Dr. Jordan will showcase work that draws on phylogenetic methodologies from evolutionary biology to investigate questions about cultural and linguistic diversity. Topics will include language history, kinship and marriage, and the cultural uses of plants, and Dr. Jordan will also point to openly available sources of cross-cultural and linguistic data for researchers looking to adopt these methods to their own questions.   


Speaker Bio

Dr. Fiona M Jordan is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bristol, and a cultural evolutionary anthropologist with a background in biology, psychology, and language. Dr. Jordan runs the multidisciplinary EXCD research group at Bristol (Exploring Cultural Diversity) investigating cultural transmission and evolution using phylogenetic, elicitation, corpus linguistic, and field methods. Dr. Jordan's main focus is on kinship and social norms and regional specialism is on the Austronesian-speaking societies of the Pacific, in addition, Dr. Jordan has published widely across a number of other topics including semantic change, land tenure, and ethnobotany. Dr. Jordan is the Secretary of the Cultural Evolution Society, a new multidisciplinary scientific community: we welcome all scholars working on understanding the capacity for and diverse expression of culture.


Click here to register