Anthro 129A Culture and Evolution 60255
Anthro 125E Culture and Evolution

Spring 2004 SST 630 2-3:20 Tu, Th

Synopsis. In this class we look not at idealized representations of cultures as evolving in independent but similar stages but as social formations that are reactive to larger scale, interactive and changing political, economic and religious contexts. After reviewing, discussing and presenting readings, students choose a research project for their final paper.


1. Report on one of the articles (required or recommended) or book chapters (Grade: 10%)

2. Working with one of the datasets (cities, states, cultures and civilizational networks) in

  • excel (Instructions),
  • ArcGis (Instructions),
  • World Cultures comparative ethnography (Instructions),
  • Network/Pajek world-system analysis, etc.) (Instructions)
    report on a project design (Grade: 10%), present a term project (Grade: 15%) and turn in a term project report (Grade: 55%), plus class participation/discussion (Grade: 10%)

    Required readings

    for some of the on-line but off-campus access to readings please click here to configure your proxy server

    Arrighi, Giovanni and Beverly J. Silver. 2001. 'Capitalism and World (Dis)order.' Review of International Studies 27:257-279.

    White, Douglas. "Hegemonic Change and Long Inflationary Cycles: Do independent observations (Fischer and Arrighi) establish some links?" html 193 Medieval city data for viewing only 205zip Medieval city data new 222zip city data the civilizations project (background)

    Boehm, Christopher. 2000. "Conflict and the Evolution of Social Control," In Journal of Consciousness Studies 7:79-183, Special Issue on Evolutionary Origins of Morality; Leonard Katz, guest editor. see also Variance Reduction and the Evolution of Social Control

    Population Dynamics and Warfare: preprint Turchin and Korotayev; Addendum; Supplementary

    Peter Turchin Dynamical Analysis of Socio-Economic Oscillations: England, 1100-1900

    Turchin's PowerPoint presentation of Dynamical maps (22 MB) of evolution of the state system and metaethnic frontiers in Europe during the two millenia CE. These are PowerPoint slides presented at the Santa Fe Institute working group on Analyzing Civilizations as Dynamic Networks (Complex Macrosystems). C. Nussli, 2002. Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe is the source of the new states/ethnogenesis maps.

    Turchin's Cliodynamics site

    Artemiy S. Malkov The Silk Roads -- Eurasian Integration through Trade: Ancient, Islamic and 13th C

    Janet Abu-Lughod. 1993. The World System in the Thirteenth Century: Dead-End or Precursor? (xeroxed reprint)

    Chase-Dunn, Christopher, and Thomas D. Hall. 1997. Rise and Demise: Comparing World-Systems. Paperback - $39. Barnes & Noble HarperCollins. New Perspectives in Sociology. Hardback - Boulder, CO: Westview Press. See also Globalization: A World-Systems Perspective

    Rein Taagepera, 1997 JStor PDF of Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia? International Studies Quarterly 41: 482-504.

    Korotayev, Andrey. 2004. World Religions as a factor of Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. See very end of this web page for more on religion, and for project materials.

    2002 [1969] George P. Murdock and Douglas R. White, Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: on-line. Reprinted with annotations from Ethnology 8:329-369 World cultures database

    One of Two Required : book reports by chapters

    Wolf, Eric, and Sydel Silverman. 2001. Pathways of Power: Building an Anthropology of the Modern World. Berkeley: University of California Press. ~$25 (paper) Barnes&Noble

    Pomeranz, Kenneth L. 2000. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ~$18 (paper) Barnes&Noble

    Recommended readings

    Co-Evolution of Behaviors and Institutions: The overarching objective is to understand how the complex structures of social interaction defined by markets, gift exchange, inter group bargaining, firms, foraging bands, and other forms of economic organization shape the evolution of individual preferences, norms, and other motivations, and in turn how these motivations shape the evolution of economic organization. To sharpen and discipline the model-building process we will address a few well documented empirical cases as well as the larger empirical puzzle of human sociality itself.

    Civilizations as Dynamic Networks: The goals are to stimulate significant theoretical and methodological breakthroughs in historical macrosystems research by focusing on new methods of network analysis and complex modeling focused on questions such as the interactive processes entailed in the growth and decline of cities and polities. We are doing this by bringing together world-systems and network analysts with historians, archaeologists and other social scientists concerned with the evolution of macrostructural networks is to explore the synergies than can result from the exchange and integration of datasets, the sharing of modeling and analytical tools across disciplines, and exchanges as to intellectual frameworks and problems.

    Arrighi, Giovanni and Beverly J. Silver. 1999. Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ~$23 (paper) Barnes&Noble

    Hobsbaum, Eric. 1987. "The Centenarian Revolution," Chapter 1 of The Age of Empire: 1875-1914. New York, NY: Vintage Press.

    Wolf, Eric. 1982 (2nd edition). Europe and the People without History. Berkeley: University of California Press. ~$22 (paper) Barnes&Noble

    Chernoble: The Ethnography of a Ghost Town Elena

    Pomeranz, Kenneth L. and Steven Topik. The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present. M. E. Sharpe: 1999. ~$20 Barnes&Noble

    Cities database (rite click to download here) for use with Pajek
    The IROWS (Chase-Dunn and ___) Cities and Empires database
    World cultures dbase files for use with GIS:
    web files-uci

    GIS output from classroom lab

    Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in the Old World: Ethnographic Atlas
    World Cities: World-System project

    To make map
    left click ... Events
    click Properties
    Value Field -- scroll to variable
    click Add all Values
    click value to remove
    click Remove tab
    click value to format

    World Religions and Social Evolution by Andrey Korotayev is also available to students in prepublication form. It draws on the World Cultural database we use in class, and the worl religion as well as other variables. From the publisher's blurbs, written by me: This "is a book of startling simplicity and depth that suggests an empirical solution to viewing the subjectivist/objectivist dilemmas in the social sciences and history. It will have a profound effect on how comparison is done in the future in anthropology, and suggests an answer to why some anthropologists, starting with Geertz, are reluctant to suggest comparison as an adequate method. The Murdockian comparative approach, up to Korotayev, had developed to the point where the nonindependence of cultures was well-recognized, and ways of taking the larger configurations of cultural systems into account had been reckoned to lie, in the latest iteration, along lines of high-order proto-linguistic communities. Korotayev demonstrates the effects of breaking what might be seen as a ritual taboo of Murdockian comparison: Thou Shalt Not Code World Religion. By doing so, Korotayev releases the Murdockian spell that lingers over the comparative approach in anthropology, and goes on to demonstrate the powerful effects of world religious communities – dating from what Jaspers calls the ‘Axial Age’ (400-600BC) – on the preservation and differentiation of distinctive social and political structures in Eurasia. His introduction and conclusion suggest that an objectivist natural history approach to human history, in which subjective factors are of local importance but fade out in terms of lasting effects over generations, is a valid approach to the ‘pre-Axial’ condition of human societies, while a subjectivist history of consciousness is a necessary complement to the ‘post-Axial’ condition. Korotayev succeeds in placing these two complementary approaches in context and showing their linkages in terms of how subjective and religious factors play out in human history alongside objective factors such as demography and ecology, each informing the other. He shows how it is impossible to arrive at valid inferential results from comparative approaches without an integration of the two, a situation he aptly calls ‘Galton’s opportunity’ for those are of century-old critiques of the comparative method. He reader will be surprised at the depth of empirical comparative findings in this short book. Following Murray Leaf’s Man, Mind and Science (1974) this work is a major contribution to repair of the material/ideational rift in anthropology." [see koro]

    (note that the argument here takes us back to 600-400BCE where the world religious and early philosophical traditions begin. For the 'Axial Age' in the context of a world history course, see WebChron: The WebChronology Project at NorthPark)

    For critique - whats wrong with this approach?

    The Evolution of Social Geometry: Some Considerations about General Principles of the Evolution of Complex Systems

    (To connect with Korotayev's book, compare Korotayev's introduction which characterizes Spencer's approach to 'evolution' as just one of several types of evolution.)