Tag Archives: phylogeny

Ilya Tëmkin – Perils and promises of cultural phylogenies: evolution of the Baltic Psaltery

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Perils and promises of cultural phylogenies: Evolution of the Baltic Psaltery

Ilya Tëmkin
National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) and NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 12:00pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

psaltery-phylogenyAbstract: The new millennium has brought a new impetus for rigorous historical reconstruction into the field of material cultural evolution by applying phylogenetic analysis (originally developed for discerning evolutionary relationships among living organisms). A detailed study of the Baltic psaltery, a plucked stringed instrument that has enjoyed popularity in Northeastern Europe since the Middle Ages, reveals perils and promises of these methods, particularly of novel network-based approaches. Every group of people that has preserved the instrument, regards it as an essential symbol of their ethnic identity with its presumed origin and significance deeply rooted in traditional culture, as evidenced through mythology, epic poetry, songs, and ritual. Despite its cultural significance, the history of the Baltic psaltery has been a controversial subject for over a century. The patterns of historical relationships revealed by phylogenetics-inspired approaches may help settling the controversy and link disparate data on the iconography, archaeology, and cultural anthropology of the Baltic psaltery.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Evolution: all in the family

MMT_Volantino A5_fronteLook for this teaching material on Academia.edu.

La vita sulla Terra è una grande famiglia allargata. Noi esseri umani siamo davvero imparentati non soltanto con ogni essere vivente del mondo, ma anche con ogni essere mai vissuto sulla Terra. Lo stand “Evoluzione: tutti in famiglia” dà la possibilità a ogni visitatore di scegliere un organismo appartenente a una specie che preferisce, sedersi e calcolare il “grado di cuginanza” che lo collega a sé. Il calcolo si esegue seguendo semplici istruzioni riportate sulla scheda “do it yourself”. Le istruzioni comprendono la ricerca di alcune semplici informazioni su Internet. Al termine della ricerca, che dura pochi minuti, il visitatore riceve un “certificato di cuginanza” stampato al momento. Grazie a un’estrazione a premi al termine della giornata, poi, pochi fortunati tra tutti i partecipanti possono vincere una delle magliette “Evolution: all in the family”.

Evo-poster-small
La metodologia utilizzata si basa sul conteggio del numero approssimativo di generazioni umane e non-umane trascorse dall’epoca dell’antenato comune. È esattamente come calcolare una genealogia standard, però estesa oltre le generazioni umane, alle migliaia e milioni di generazioni del resto del mondo vivente. Lo stand è dotato di una grande e colorata immagine dell’albero della vita, che serve sia da attrattiva per i visitatori, sia da mappa per impostare il conteggio delle generazioni.
Lo stand è realizzato in collaborazione con “Evogeneao – Teaching evolution through life’s genealogy” (Medford, Oregon, U.S.A.). Con l’occasione, si realizzerà una traduzione in italiano e una messa online dei testi didattici del sito http://www.evogeneao.com/, con menzione dell’Università di Milano Bicocca e di MEETmeTONIGHT.


Look for it in the Talks page (with additional links):

2013, Sep 27 (h.10-24) – MeetMeTonight – Faccia a faccia con la ricerca, The Universities of Milan, IT: Evoluzione: tutti in famiglia. With Marcello Sala. Lab.

http://www.evogeneao.com

Tracing traits in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology. An interdisciplinary workshop

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Tracing traits in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology. An interdisciplinary workshop

  • Federica Da Milano, Linguist, University of Milano Bicocca
  • Nicoletta Puddu, Linguist, University of Cagliari
  • Fabrizio Panebianco, Economist, University of Milano Bicocca
  • Emanuele Serrelli, Philosopher of Biology, University of Milano Bicocca

Thursday, December 13, 2012, h 14:00
Room U6/367, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

networks-cisepsAbstract: The seminar will present and compare the methods used in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology to study traits in their different domains: language features, behaviors and beliefs, genes and phenotypic characteristics. Federica Da Milano and Nicoletta Puddu will present phylogenetic models of language change and illustrate them with the particular geo-linguistic case of Sardegna. Fabrizio Panebianco will outline evolutionary kinds of models in economics. Emanuele Serrelli will explain tree and network analyses used to study shared traits and contacts between organisms. The open discussion will bring some reflections on the transfer of models and ideas between different fields, bringing about productive interchange with the participants and the audience of different specializations.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Nathalie Gontier – Cultural evolution models and the extended synthesis

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Cultural evolution models and the extended synthesis. Symbiogenesis and punctuated equilibria theory in the study of cultural transmission

Nathalie Gontier
Dutch Free University of Brussels (Belgium)

Thursday, May 10, 2012, 12:00pm
Room U6/367, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

gontier-reticulationAbstract: Reticulate evolution, symbiogenesis and punctuated equilibria theory are fast-rising areas of research in evolutionary biology that are part of what is today sometimes called the “Evolutionary Extended Synthesis”. These theories have major consequences for how we study and define the evolution of life as well as how we depict the tree of life. From an evolutionary epistemological point of view, they also have possible applications in studies on human culture. Scholars who are currently engaged in “evolutionizing” the sociocultural sciences, however, tend to work form within selectionist frameworks. These approaches definitely have their merits, but the application of selectionist theory to sociocultural phenomena has also brought to light that horizontal cultural transmission processes, and fast cultural evolutionary processes prove to be quite difficult to model from within a selectionist framework. I will focus on how biological horizontal evolutionary theories can provide the theoretical framework and methodological toolkit to model horizontal cultural evolution processes; and how punctuated equilibria and drift theory can be implemented in the sociocultural domain.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.