Cultural ecology

Human societies are permeated by cultural structures which span all aspects of human life, from the way we think to their familial and political organisation. Those structures are not pre-given, but are continuously recreated along with the environment and the social relations in which they are embedded. Understanding how human societies work therefore entails the study of how human culture change through time.

One central aspect of this dynamic is that each cultural trait changes the landscape in which itself and other traits evolve. For exemple, the emergence of agriculture enabled the emergence of densely populated settlements and centralised political control, which consequently further the progress of agricultural subsistence. Just like living organism, cultural forms create the niche they evolve to fit in.

We propose to study the stucture of human societies through the multi-scale patterns of coevolution shaping cultural forms. Cultural traits should in our view be understood through their participation in a cultural ecosystem of interrelated beliefs and practices. We work accordingly to integrate the long time perspective of deep history with the accent of cultural evolution on the causes for structural change.

This article was updated on June 6, 2021