International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

twitter 2015
     facebook 2015


MONDAY, JULY 6  /  19:00 - 20:30  /  Salle Marie Gérin-Lajoie
At the bio-anthropological crossroads: a comparison of the use of niche construction theory (NCT) in archaeology and evolutionary biology

Francisco Vergara-Silva (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico)

Recent trends in interdisciplinary research involving biological and anthropological components –such as ‘modern domestication studies’ (MDS)– claim a prominent role as contributors to an ‘expanded/extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES). At the same time, MDS and related, emerging strands of theory place niche construction (NC) at the center of their conceptual schemes –for instance, eco-evo-devo, an ontogeny- and ecology-oriented evolutionary biology perspective whose projections upon a bio-anthropological realm share several explanatory goals with niche construction theory (NCT), as it applies to human/hominid evolution. Here, I investigate the reception, adoption and/or modification of NCT-based arguments in current archaeological theory, in order to contrast the corresponding results with those of human NCT (hNCT) and NCT-influenced MDS. On the archaeological side of the comparison, my analysis pays special attention to aspects of Ian Hodder’s version of post-processual archaeology (PPA) –in particular, to his notion of ‘entanglements’ between humans, other species, and things. After identifying ways in which ideas crucial to evolutionary discourse on both strictly biological and bio-anthropological issues –e.g. fitness, inheritance, ontogeny and variation– are differentially understood in hNCT-MDS and PPA, I discuss the implications that the co-existence of divergent theoretical standpoints incorporating NCT might have for the articulation of either one or more versions of the (many times promised) EES.