University of Cambridge > > Department of Archaeology - Garrod seminar series > Thinking evolutionary laws: technological trajectories and anthropological regularities

Thinking evolutionary laws: technological trajectories and anthropological regularities

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In social sciences, it is possible to think of evolutionary laws in terms of regularities. By regularities I mean recurrentcross-cultural phenomena that can be observed in the present and in the past, and whose emergence can be explained and, therefore, the conditions for their actualization characterized, in present-day contexts, using an interdisciplinary approach. The study of the conditions for the generation of regularities involves different scales of observation, starting with the individual, and then examining how an individual process can generate atemporal regularities on a group scale. Understanding the mechanisms that generate regularities in turn makes it possible to explain past situations, without obliterating socio-cultural and historical particularities. I will discuss in these terms some aspects of the evolution of technologies. It is marked by recurring phenomena, which will be reduced, for the purpose of clarity, to the stability of technical traditions and their intrinsic variability, on the one hand, and to changes brought about by innovation or borrowing, on the other. Characterizing the conditions for their recurrence reveals true “laws” rooted in psycho-social universals.

This talk is part of the Department of Archaeology - Garrod seminar series series.

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