Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Fiona Jordan
Wednesday 06 March 2013
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RAI RESEARCH SEMINAR

SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

The vast ethnographic record, massive supercomputers, and 100 basic words: How language histories reveal the processes of cultural change

Dr Fiona Jordan, University of Bristol

Wednesday 6 March at 5.30 pm

This event is free, but tickets must be booked.  To book tickets please go to http://fionajordan.eventbrite.co.uk

Abstract:

In the last 20 years, evolutionary anthropologists interested in understanding cross-cultural patterns and processes have turned to the population histories afforded by linguistic relationships to reinvigorate comparative approaches. At the same time, language researchers have revolutionised how we infer linguistic relationships by using the quantitative computational tools developed in biology for inferring the trees and networks of species. Working at the language-family level where emic categories are likely to be genuinely comparable, the vast ethnographic record is now being put to good use asking questions about the patterns and processes of cultural and linguistic change. In this talk I show how "cultural phylogenetics" allows us to answer a host of questions (old and new) about migration, kinship, colour-naming, and the coevolution of language and culture.