CCBC Summer Workshop 2013
This year's workshop will involve presentation and development of new research ideas for collaboration between CCBC members. The workshop is on Monday 8th July 2013. Contact Jeremy Kendal if you'd like to attend.
Register for this interdisciplinary conference, 19-20th March 2012, in association with the IAS and CCBC. Visiting speakers include Prof. Mike O’Brien (University of Missouri), Prof. Paolo Saviotti (Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble), and Prof. Alex Bentley (Bristol University).
Exaptation, Uncertainty and Technological Change
Prof. Robert Layton is running 2 two day events on 11-12th February 2012 and 19-20th March 2012, funded by the IAS and in association with CCBC. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
11th-12th February 2012 (Saturday and Sunday) Anthropology Seminar Room (Dawson 104)
A 2 day inter-departmental workshop in which representatives from interested departments discuss the concept of exaptation and its application in their fields in a relatively informal fashion, presenting initial position papers for discussion. This workshop will follow up issues raised at a preliminary meeting held during the initial planning stage for events to take place during 2012-13. Participating departments will include: Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Business School and Education, with the possibility of contributions from other schools and departments, including Archaeology, Engineering and Medicine.
19th-20th March (Monday and Tuesday) Dawson Lecture Theatre D 110
A 2 day conference at which departments will present papers suitable for publication stating the contribution their discipline can make to the study of exaptation. Invited speakers will respond with their own assessment of the current state and future prospects for the inter-disciplinary study of exaptation. Departmental papers will be circulated in advance to visiting speakers. Visitors who have confirmed attendance include Prof. Mike O’Brien (University of Missouri), Prof. Paolo Saviotti (Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble), and Prof. Alex Bentley (Bristol University).
Exaptation, Uncertainty and Technological Change
Exaptation, a concept that can be defined as “characters, evolved for other usages (or for no function at all), and later “coopted” for their current role…” (Gould and Vrba 1982), is one of the most important yet little studied mechanisms in the evolution of species, ecosystems and technologies. Exaptation arises from the indefinite, but rarely explicit, range of potential functions of existing objects/ideas (D’Arcy Thompson, 1942). Feathers, for example, were probably selected for thermal insulation and their use in flight was therefore an exaptation. Microwave ovens certainly originated as radar magnetrons. Principles of social organisation such as producer co-operatives have been applied to numerous resources beyond those for which they were first devised.
While the parallels and differences between genetic and cultural evolution have been debated since the start of the 20th century, rigorous analysis only began in the 1970s. Over the past thirty years techniques have been increasingly refined in archaeology, evolutionary psychology and economics but, as yet, they have not been applied to the phenomenon of exaptation. The dynamics of co-evolving technologies, markets and societies are driven by recombinant and exaptive innovation mechanisms. We need to understand how the leap to new function – prior to the adaptational trajectory – can be conceptualized and modelled; the transfer of known techniques and materials to new contexts can effect substantial savings and eliminate risks.
Durham is well-placed to deliver such a programme of research, since an interest in promoting interdisciplinary work in evolutionary processes already exists in Biological Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Education, and the Business School. In particular, the team are keen to explore the following issues: taxonomy, and how terms are used in different subjects; modelling fitness landscapes in the biological and social sciences; comparability of economic/social systems and natural ecosystems; clarifying what qualifies as a genuine exaptation in social organisation; establishing what kind of benefits does cultural exaptation confer, since ‘adaptive’ implies some fitness advantage to the user. The entity must survive and reproduce/be transmitted. What is required to achieve this (in biology: mating, offspring, survival?). What variables affect cultural ‘fitness’?
The project team will address these issues with the support of two IAS Fellows: the economist, Professor Pier Paolo Saviotti and the anthropologist, Professor Michael J O’Brien. The IAS is also supporting a programme of weekly inter-departmental seminars and a conference, which will culminate in the publication of an edited volume.
Definite: an edited volume on exaptation, to be submitted to Cambridge University Press or Routledge.
Probable: interdisciplinary research grant applications.
The seminar and the conference are open to students and academics, but to register and request further information, please contact Professor Bob Layton (email@example.com).
This programme is organised in association with the IAS and the University’s Centre for the Co-evolution of Biology and Culture (CCBC)
CCBC Summer Meeting: 30th June 2011, 1-5pm, Anthropology common Room.
Centre for Iranian Cultural Studies first workshop on June 6th 2011: 'From Human Niche Construction to Imperial Power: The Next Step in the Study of Ancient Iranian Water Systems'.
‘Archaeological Phylogenies Clinic’ organised by Tehrani and Arroyo-Kalin to develop cultural phylogenetics projects using archaeological datasets (May 2010).
‘Darwinising Folklore Workshop’ organised by Tehrani and M. Smith to develop AHRC grant proposal on evolution of folktales and folk music with British-based ethnomusicologists and folklorists (June 2010)
‘The Spread of Disease with Farming in Neolithic Europe’, May 2010 (organised by Chris Scarre & Jeremy Kendal).
‘Interdisciplinary view of Plague in rural and urban Europe’ (organized by Rus Hoelzel)
“The influence of visual media on physical attraction: cross-cultural studies” (organised by Lynda Boothroyd)
‘Innovation versus Invention in the Creative Industries’ – workshop combining biological, economics, media and anthropological perspsectives, co-sponsored by CCI (ARC Centre), Queensland University of Technology. Organised by Alex Bentley.
CCBC Away Day - 21st June 2010
Exploring interactions of biology and culture on human evolution and diversity - a day of talks and discussion (Open meeting).
Organiser: Dr. Jeremy Kendal.
(Contact jeremy dot kendal at durham.ac.uk to attend)
Domestication as an Evolutionary Phenomenon
Bringing together the leading scientists from diverse disciplines to establish a new disciplinary framework, addressing the origins and understanding of essential crops, livestock, and pets. Hosted at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Organiser: Dr. Greger Larson
Agent-based modelling of hunter-gether social evolution
Workshop 22nd-23rd March 2010-03-11
Organiser: Prof. R. Layton
Humanity between Biology and Culture: the Niche Construction Perspective
19th October 2008, Anthopology Department, Durham University.
Sponsored by the IAS in association with the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity.
This workshop has led to a special edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, to be published 2011.
Physics of Conflict and Competition
15-17th April 2009, IAS, Durham University.
Organized by Alex Bentley