Aggression and Peacemaking in an Evolutionary Context

18 - 22 October 2010

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Aim and Description

This interdisciplinary workshop will include perspectives from natural and social science fields such as archaeology, primatology, nomadic forager studies, human behavioral ecology, and evolutionary biology. Findings from these disciplines pertain to the study of conflict management within an evolutionary framework. The idea is to bring together primatologists who have researched aggression, reconciliation, or some aspect of conflict management in non-human or human primates; archaeologists who can speak to how the prehistoric record, especially prior to the development of agriculture, contributes to our understanding of human aggression and peacemaking; nomadic hunter-gatherer specialists who have knowledge about how topics like reciprocal sharing, cooperation and competition, and resource utilization relate to patterns of aggression and conflict resolution in nomadic band societies; and human behavior ecologists and evolutionary biologists who consider relevant topics such as evolutionary models of conflict, restraint, ritualization, cost-benefit models of aggression, territorial defense, and resource competition, and so forth. Findings from each of these disciplines pertain to the study of conflict within an evolutionary framework. This workshop takes a specific focus on how knowledge from these natural and social science fields may be integrated to produce a more complete view of aggression and peacemaking.

This workshop is innovative and timely in several ways. First, it will bring together specialists from anthropological and related disciplines who usually do not interact very much but who are all concerned with aggression and conflict management. This process holds promise for making theoretical contributions and advancing knowledge in an area where such interaction could be very fruitful. Second, this workshop will bring together scholars with different theoretical orientations and provide a forum for constructive discussion and debate on a variety of current controversial issues related to aggression, conflict and peacemaking. This type of interdisciplinary interaction is sorely needed and such interaction has the potential for contributing new knowledge about human aggression and conflict management. Third, in terms of theoretical orientation, this workshop innovatively will go well beyond a focus on aggression and warfare to include behavioral ecological and evolutionary perspectives on conflict management more generally conceived. The guiding theoretical beacons for the workshop, evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology, stem from the natural sciences but have implications for interpreting social behavior that to date have been under utilized. It is hoped that some new applications of theory and subsequent collaborations between scientists from diverse fields will be germinated from the workshop.


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