Publication details for Prof Peter Rowley-ConwyLayton, R. & Rowley-Conwy, P. (2013). Wild things in the north? Hunter-gatherers and the tyranny of the colonial perspective. Anthropologie. International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution 51(2): 213-230.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 0323-1119
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
The paper argues for a synthesis of Darwinian and Marxist theories of evolution. We challenge claims that hunter-gatherer societies evolve via a natural progression from simple to complex, arguing instead that huntergatherer social strategies are adaptations to specifiable ecological conditions, while having emergent consequences that shape the political structure of hunter-gatherer society. We review the various theories of which we make use, and those that we challenge, and test them against data from the ethnographic and archaeological literature on hunter-gatherers, discussing the evidence for variation in technology, mobility, territoriality and egalitarianism versus social inequality. We conclude that human societies do not evolve via a natural progression from simple to complex forms, and that complex hunter-gatherers are not necessarily incipient farmers. Many of the assumptions that colour common views of the development of hunter-gatherer complexity and the appearance of agriculture in prehistoric Europe have their roots, consciously or unconsciously, in nineteenth-century European colonialism.
Special Issue: Theory and Method in the Prehistoric Archaeology of Central Europe