Ant 5: Short Description

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Anthropology 5: Proseminar in Biological Anthropology (4)

[Spring 2008; MW 12:10-1:30; CRN# 66293; 3 Wellman]

Prof. Bruce Winterhalder


Short Description

This is an undergraduate seminar for anthropology majors and others with similar interests. It is suited (especially, but not exclusively) to students specializing or intrigued by subjects taught by faculty in the evolutionary wing of the Department (archaeology, behavioral ecology, primate behavior and ecology, paleo & biological anthropology). Non-majors from related disciplines or those considering a major are welcomed.

The catalog description for Anthropology 5 is plain and non-descript, and I have made full use of the implied license. I have chosen a set of materials (see below) that are eclectic but with some common themes. The four books listed as required reading are ones that I have enjoyed or know I will enjoy. I presume that you will appreciate them too, partly for the diverse ways that they manifest evolutionary anthropological inquiry. They range from primate behavior, to the fundamental question of altruism, to an evolutionary theory of social development, and on to the archaeology of a fascinating island society with possible lessons on environmental abuse. Although the topics are diverse, they all take up a comparative, evolutionary or ecological perspective. I have indulged my preference for the 'in depth' work of a few colleagues, particularly those who are passionate about their subject and who pursue it with an integrative bent.

We will read and discuss these books, and investigate some of the primary research on which they are based. They are:

Cheney, D. L., and R. M. Seyfarth. 2007. Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dugatkin, L. A. 2006. The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Fenley J., and P. Bahn. 2003. The Enigmas of Easter Island. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richerson, P. J., and R. Boyd. 2006. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Please consider joining us. Get in touch with me if you have questions about the course or enrollment permission [; 754-4770].