University of East London
School of Humanities and Social Science
MSc Anthropology: Evolutionary Approaches to Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology
Symbolic culture, which includes language, ritual, myth and ideology, is what distinguishes us from our nearest primate relatives. How did language and symbolic culture evolve? What are the significant transformations that were made on that evolutionary path? How much of contemporary culture is shaped by these processes? Is it appropriate to try to interpret present day cultures and social behaviour informed by evolutionary theory? And how can the answers to these crucial questions inform the fieldwork that we currently undertake? These are the “big” questions at the cutting edge of anthropological and archaeological research. Answering them will help us better understand how we think and feel and behave as human beings. Our inter-disciplinary research expertise has an especial, but not exclusive, focus on the analysis of the origins of language, kinship and gender, war and revenge, equality and hierarchy and the analysis of ritual. It is a return to the founding concerns of classical anthropology – but through the revolution in the life sciences over the last forty years. The methods we use are drawn from a number of cognate disciplines: human behavioural ecology, cultural and social anthropology, archaeology and cultural astronomy.
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