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Colloquium: "Primatology and cultural anthropology: A rationale for a fruitful exchange" by Chapais Bernard

Monday, October 24, 2011
12:00 AM
411 West Hall

Colloquium: "Primatology and cultural anthropology: A rationale for a fruitful exchange" by Chapais Bernard

"Primatology and cultural anthropology: A rationale for a fruitful exchange." - In generating social variants cumulatively, culture has produced hypertrophic and extremely variable social structures. Underneath the observed variability, however, lies a unitary social configuration which is represented by no existing society, is not directly observable, but nonetheless pervades all human societies. That configuration is extremely elaborate and made up of specific categories of social activities, social bonds and social patterns. It is the blueprint of all human societies. For various reasons the configuration could hardly be recognized as such through the comparative study of human societies and, equally important, its components could hardly be the object of a consensus. To uncover it, sociocultural anthropology and primatology must work together. I shall also argue that the deep configuration of humankind is the product and correlate of a large but finite set of biological predispositions for social life (human nature), and present the outline of the corresponding model of human nature. That model is an attempt to bridge the gap between mental components, universal sociocultural categories and cultural innovations (in forms and meanings).