Loading Events


will be given by

Professor Roy Ellen FBA

President of the Royal Anthropological Institute & Professor of Anthropology and Human Ecology, University of Kent


On Friday 16 September 2011 at 1.15 pm during the Annual Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists in the Arts Hall, University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter.

All welcome, whether registered for the main conference or not. If you wish to attend this lecture, but not the conference, please email the conference administrator.


How can we best make sense of current work on the theme of cultural transmission that use different approaches and that operate at different levels of generalization? In the present condition of our subject, such a body of theory is emerging as pivotal to understanding the general character of human sociality, since reproduction (however imperfect) of knowledge and practice is essential for biological survival, and for enhancing the adaptiveness of both individual humans and local populations. The range of relevant research is diverse, and includes hypotheses about how transmission operates at the micro- level (applying to bodily aspects of learning, innovation and interpersonal interaction), as well as the mid-range role played by structured contexts and institutions, and, at a wider macro- level, issues of cultural history, phylogeny, diversification and spatial diffusion. The address will explore problems encountered in this project, and examine how we might reconcile accounts of the transmission of ideas and activities at the levels of cognitive process, practical action and local socio-ecological context, as well as linking these to explanations of longer-term (including evolutionary) trajectories of socio-cultural change.