Revisiting the evolution of kinship workshop

Revisiting the evolution of kinship workshop

Kinship is central to social life, bringing together the biological facts of reproduction and relatedness with the social facts of how family relationships are categorised. The evolution of more complex systems is likely to have played a key role in expanding the social universe of early humans or their hominin forebears.

Kinship has also played a central role in the fields of anthropology and linguistics, as (among other things):

  • a likely source of data for the relatedness of human groups 
  • a testing ground for the plasticity of organised semantic systems 
  • a demonstration of the complexity and elegance of conceptual systems in many hunter-gatherer societies (e.g. Australian) 
  • an ideal place to study the linked evolution of terminological and jural/social systems (e.g. cousin terms and marriage rules). 

For studies of kinship as a cognitive technology, its intricate systems present opportunities to examine how humans engage in complex social reasoning embodying recursive categories. From these heartlands, the relevance of kinship stretches out to the points of contact, in genetics, between biological systems of descent and social regulation of mating, and, in primatology, to the gradual extension of individual-recognition beyond the most immediate kin.

This workshop will bring together experts from all the above fields and more in order to examine the evolution of kinship systems from the pre-human through the early human to attested human societies. 

Date & time

Wed 27 Feb 2019, 9:00am to Fri 01 Mar 2019, 5:15pm


Room TR8, Level 1, College of Business & Economics Building


Kim Sterelny
Nicholas Evans
Joan Silk
Stephen Levinson
Rob Wilson
Robert Layton
Ian Keen
Ronald Planer
Alice Gaby
Patrick McConvell
Fiona Jordan
Francesca Merlan

Event series


School of Philosophy


Updated:  7 March 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications