May 22, 2017

Advancing Our Evolutionary Understanding of Migration

Adrian Bell, University of Utah

Most evolutionary ecological outcomes are highly sensitive to the nature of migration. The when, where, and how of migration are fundamental to evolutionary questions that anthropologists and others have tackled, though with varying levels of analytical rigor. In worst cases, migration is merely acknowledged as the elephant in the room. How can we do better! In this talk I discuss theoretical and empirical approaches that help us more rigorously explore the patterns of migration and measure its impact in prehistory and the present. I take examples from my theoretical work on the Ideal Despotic Distribution, ethnic markers, and the evolution of essentialism. I also discuss my empirical work on settlement patterns in the Pacific, and ongoing ethnographic work in Tonga and the Tongan diaspora. Throughout I advocate the balanced use of mathematical theory and empirical rigor as the way forward.

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