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Departmental Colloquium: The cultural evolution of kinship diversity

CEU Budapest
Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

In this talk I will describe the VariKin project, a multidisciplinary approach to understand the patterned variation in human kinship systems. Kinship terminologies--the patterns of words languages have for denoting and referring to family members--are a striking opportunity for understanding the interplay of culture, language, and cognition. The project team brings together theory and method across anthropology, linguistics, evolutionary biology, and computational methods. I'll describe results from large cross-cultural analyses using comparative phylogenetic methods, studies of the patterns of frequency of use in different language varieties, and insights into child acquisition of kinship language from both comparative corpora and fieldwork in a Datooga community in Tanzania.