Inaugural lecture by Professor Quentin Atkinson

Politics, religion and the last major transition in evolution

Abstract: Over the last 12,000 years, a period of rapid cultural evolution has propelled the default mode of human living from small hunter-gatherer bands to ethnically and economically diverse mega-cities and nation states. Understanding this transition to big societies is critical, both for unravelling our evolutionary past and for tackling the challenges of our future. How important were hypothesised cultural drivers of this change, including agriculture, religion and technology? Can a knowledge of this history help us predict the fortunes of big societies of today? And what constraints does our hunter-gatherer psychology place on the political landscape and institutions of modern big societies? In this talk I will show how interdisciplinary research on politics, religion and cultural evolution is beginning to offer answers to these questions and provide new insight into the big societies that both unite and divide us.

Thursday 25th October

5.30pm Refreshments  Level 2 Reception, Building 302, 23 Symonds Street
6.15pm Lecture   Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre , Ground Floor, Building 301, 23 Symonds Street