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Claude Lévi-Strauss as a humanist forerunner of cultural macroevolution studies


Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R (2022). Claude Lévi-Strauss as a humanist forerunner of cultural macroevolution studies. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 4:e31.

Abstract

Cross-cultural studies of humans using methods developed in evolutionary biology and comparative linguistics are flourishing. ‘Cultural macroevolution’ has great potential to address fundamental questions of cultural transformation and human history. However, this field is poorly integrated with core cultural anthropology, although both aim in part at addressing similar issues. Claude Lévi-Strauss established a comparative approach searching for universals and documentation of diversity to bring understanding to cultural phenomena. Recognizing the nomothetic nature of Lévi-Strauss’ work, his abstraction and modelling, provides an example within anthropology of the search for universals and the study of big data, akin to cultural macroevolution studies. The latter could benefit, beyond the sophisticated analyses of big data mined from ethnographic work, from the integration with the intellectual legacy and practice of core anthropology and thus propitiate the synergistic interaction of disciplines. Attempts at rapprochement of disciplines from the natural sciences that lack pluralism and present a narrow view are deemed examples of ‘Wilson's effect’.

Abstract

Cross-cultural studies of humans using methods developed in evolutionary biology and comparative linguistics are flourishing. ‘Cultural macroevolution’ has great potential to address fundamental questions of cultural transformation and human history. However, this field is poorly integrated with core cultural anthropology, although both aim in part at addressing similar issues. Claude Lévi-Strauss established a comparative approach searching for universals and documentation of diversity to bring understanding to cultural phenomena. Recognizing the nomothetic nature of Lévi-Strauss’ work, his abstraction and modelling, provides an example within anthropology of the search for universals and the study of big data, akin to cultural macroevolution studies. The latter could benefit, beyond the sophisticated analyses of big data mined from ethnographic work, from the integration with the intellectual legacy and practice of core anthropology and thus propitiate the synergistic interaction of disciplines. Attempts at rapprochement of disciplines from the natural sciences that lack pluralism and present a narrow view are deemed examples of ‘Wilson's effect’.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Paleontology
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 January 2022
Deposited On:03 Aug 2022 15:24
Last Modified:27 Feb 2024 02:43
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:2513-843X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2022.30
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)