February 2017 events in the excd.lab

  1. As part of the British Academy International Partnership Mobility award that enabled Josh Birchall from the Museu Goeldi to visit us back in October, Fiona is currently in Belém, Brazil to meet with collaborators on an incipient comparative database of South American language and kinship.
  2. As part of her trip, Fiona gave a talk on “As dinâmicas da diversidade cultural e linguística” (The Dynamics of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity).
  3. Friend-of-the-lab, Bristol Anthropology PhD student Janet Howard published a paper titled Frequency-dependent female genital cutting behaviour confers evolutionary fitness benefits in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Read The Economist’s summary here.
  4. Peter Racz’s paper Social Salience Discriminates Learnability of Contextual Cues in an Artificial Language has been published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Welcome to two new lab members

As the new year dawns, we welcome two new members to the excd.lab:

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow Sean Roberts joins us from a postdoc position in the Language and Cognition group at the MPI Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. His research is in evolutionary linguistics and statistical approaches to modelling cross-cultural data. He’ll be with us for three years, developing computational and statistical workflows for identifying causal effects in linguistic and cultural data.

Rebecca O’Connor is an MSc Palaeobiology student. She’s doing a phylogenetic comparative analysis of marriage, looking at the evolution of marriage (monogamy and polygyny) in different language families.

We’re excited to have you both on board!

Hosting visiting researchers

As part of the Varikin project, we are able to host visiting researchers who are funded by the National Science Foundation in the United States; the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in South Korea; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovationin Argentina; the Society for the Promotion of Science in Japan; the National Natural Science Foundation in China; the National Research Foundation in South Africa; the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) in Mexico; the Canadian Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) in Canada; or the Brazilian National Council of the State Funding Agencies (CONFAP) in Brazil.

Applications for this scheme are due in early 2017 (depending on the country of the visitor), and visits can begin in mid- to late-2017. We are particularly interested in hosting individuals with active field research sites and who may be able to contribute to our VariKin-Development subproject on how children learn kinship concepts. However, we would welcome proposals from scholars in all fields of anthropology, linguistics, and cognitive science, who may be interested in cross-cultural diversity in kinship from any angle. More information can be found here. Please get in touch with Fiona as soon as possible to discuss applications.

We also hope to be able to host visitors from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, or Slovenia through the ERC Visiting Research Fellowships program during the academic year 2017-2018. More information about this program will be available in June 2017.

South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership

UK/EU students interested in applying for the AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), a funding scheme for PhD students in the arts and humanities, are invited to attend the SWW DTP Information Day on November 28 in Cardiff. Registration is free but must be completed by November 13: https://swwdtp.fluidreview.com/.

Students interested in joining the excd.lab through this scheme are advised to get in contact with Fiona as soon as possible. The SWW DTP provides full funding and a stipend for three years, as well as additional research funds and opportunities for training and professional development (including placements of up to six months with national and international consortium partners). A unique advantage of the SWW DTP is co-supervision across two different universities, allowing students to take advantage of the academic and social resources of two different institutions. Potential students who projects are anthropological and/or linguistic in nature can refer to the Joint Guidance from the AHRC and ESRC on these “interface” subjects. The 2017 deadline is January 12.

October 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. We welcomed Sam Passmore and Simon Bishop as new PhD students in the lab. Sam will be working on the Varikin-Evolution project and Simon on cultural adjustment in overseas students at the University of Bristol.

2. We are excited to host Joshua Birchall from the Museu Goeldi in Belém, Brazil, for three weeks as part of a British Academy grant. Josh works on Amazonian languages, and we’re working toward establishing a comparative database of South American language and kinship.

3. We are holding a one-day interdisciplinary workshop on “Quantitative Comparative Approaches to Language and Culture” (QCALC).

September 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. We welcomed Dr Alice Mitchell and Dr Catherine Sheard to the VariKin project. Alice will be working on VariKin-Development, studying children’s understanding of kinship relations in Bristol and Tanzania, and Catherine will be working on Varikin-Evolution and providing admin support.

2. Fiona, Alice, and Peter are at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology this week for the Kinship Cognition and Practiceconference.

3. Fiona will also be speaking at the Cultural Evolution Workshop at the MPI for the Science of Human History on September 26, talking about the value of kinship to the field of cultural evolution.

February 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. In February we welcomed Dr Péter Rácz to Bristol and he’s started work on the VariKin-Usage corpus linguistics project.

2. In January Alarna and Fiona were working with Jamie Tehrani from Durham on a fairytales project.

3. The D-PLACE database is very near to release. In April, Fiona will be talking about D-PLACE at the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association meeting in London.

4. Two further VariKin positions have been advertised: a PhD in Cultural Phylogenetics and a Postdoc in Kinship Concept Acquisition. See the People page for details.

5. Applications for the Quantitative Methods Spring School at Jena were launched.

6. We welcomed Evi Argyriou as a project assistant – she is collecting kinship term data from Dravidian and Athapaskan languages.

7. Fiona was in New Zealand in March, experiencing new kinship ties at a family wedding!

Funding opportunities to work in excd.lab

There are two upcoming calls for funding schemes that would allow postdoctoral researchers to come work with us at Bristol.

The first is the British Academy’s International Partnership and Mobility Scheme. These three-year and one-year awards are for research partnerships between scholars in the UK and scholars in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Eurasia, South Asia, East and South-East Asia. The awards will allow for a number of different activities (see the link above) although you must be based at your present employing institution for the duration of the award. So – travel, training, workshops, collaboration. I’d be very keen on hearing from applicants who could add capability to the VariKin project.

The second is the Leverhulme Trust’s Early Career Fellowships. We have an internal selection process at Bristol that needs a draft application by early December, so please contact me now if you are interested. These Fellowships are for three years. I would be happy to host researchers interested in any aspect of cultural evolution, linguistic anthropology, or kinship. More broadly the Department has strengths in evolutionary anthropology and scientific archaeology.

 

 

 

origins of resistance to science

An intriguing piece in Science this week about the childhood origins of adult resistance to scientific ideas. It’s a review, not experimental, and as such doesn’t test any of the hypotheses directly. It’s also USA-centric without really delving into the particularities of the American situation, and there are no substantial further suggestions, but that might be space constraints. It’s worth a read.

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