Upcoming seminar: Camilla Power – The Revolutionary Sex

Speaker: Dr. Camilla Power (University of East London)

Title: The Revolutionary Sex: can sexual conflict theory help explain the emergence of language and culture?

Where: UCL (South Wing 9 Garwood LT)

When: 12th October, 18:00

Abstract:

Across species, sexual selection and sexual conflict – where the evolutionary interests of the sexes differ – provide the arena for the evolution of highly elaborate forms of signaling. Sexual conflict models, with complex psychological adaptations to situations of both conflict and cooperation between the sexes, can illuminate the evolution of the human symbolic domain of language, art and ritual.

Inside the last half- million years, significant encephalization in our African ancestors imposed heavy reproductive costs on females. Female coalitionary ritualized display emerged as a strategy to increase levels of male investment in very large-brained offspring.  Basically, we’re here today with our huge brains because women (and investor males) won the symbolic revolution at the expense of non-investing alpha males. The advantage of this model is that it offers specific predictions about the symbolic signals that arose and can still be traced in the archaeological and ethnographic records.

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