Camilla Power

Camilla Power
University College London | UCL · Department of Anthropology

PhD Anthropology University of London

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50
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730
Citations
Citations since 2017
12 Research Items
225 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202301020304050

Publications

Publications (50)
Chapter
Lionel Sims’ work has illuminated how Neolithic ritual communities ‘solarised’ the moon, deceptively transforming a lunar syntax into a solar one. But where did the ‘time-resistant’ lunar syntax come from? It is unlikely that patriarchal Neolithic societies invented this form of time-keeping. Yet it persists even in modern patriarchal ‘world’ relig...
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This handbook is currently in development, with individual articles publishing online in advance of print publication. At this time, we cannot add information about unpublished articles in this handbook, however the table of contents will continue to grow as additional articles pass through the review process and are added to the site. Please note...
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Are there constraints on the social conditions that could have given rise to language and symbolic cognition? Language has emerged in no other species than humans, suggesting a profound obstacle to its evolution. If language is seen as an aspect of cognition, limitations can be expected in terms of computational capacity. But if it is seen it as fu...
Article
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In this entry, I discuss the ritual/speech coevolution hypothesis for the evolutionary emergence of spoken language. This brings the main theory on the evolution of animal signals to bear on the question of language origins. Our closest primate relatives are fundamentally constrained in their ability to mimic or produce novel vocalizations, under p...
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Before culture, in the animal world, beauty is amatter of sexual choice and sexual competition. In formulating his theory of sexual selection, Darwin was dazzled by the array of useless ornaments displayed by males, evolved in response to female whim (Cronin 1992). Among humans we also see such multifarious ornamentation, traditions of cosmetics as...
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Menstruation refers to the discharge of blood and fluids from the uterus of reproductive-age females at approximately monthly intervals, the Latin word mensis meaning “month.” Menstruation is usually detectable in Old World monkeys and apes as external visible bleeding, but human females have the most copious and salient menstrual flows (R. D. Mart...
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Long-term and exclusive pair bonding has often been seen as central to the evolution of a human way of life. Its emergence may be linked to aspects of human life history such as the lengthy dependence and slow development of infants and children requiring novel levels of biparental care. A comparative phylogenetic approach allows testing of functio...
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Reviews the problematic relationship between sociobiology and social anthropology over several decades
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A rift runs through anthropology. Year on year we explain to our students that anthropology is the overarching study of what it means to be human; and yet our discipline is fragmented. We can, we explain, study humans as biological beings, understanding the anatomical, physiological and life-history differences between ourselves and the other great...
Book
This book brings together a group of social anthropologists with other scholars to examine how culture and society evolved. No other discipline has more relevant expertise to consider the emergence of humans as the symbolic species. Yet, despite the relative recency of modern human origins and the archaeological record of symbolism, social anthropo...
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Given the antiquity of African forager genetic lineages tracing to source populations older than the movement of modern humans outside Africa, and given significant cultural continuity and resilience, what are the prospects of reconstructing archaic structures of early modern human cosmology?
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Beliefs and customs surrounding sex, however variable, may fundamentally separate humans from non-humans. Despite the difficulties in finding valid data, anthropology has a long history of enquiry into sex and society. Some Victorian scholars of ?primitive? human sexuality boldly asserted women's original sexual freedom. Early anthropological field...
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Relative to the large amount of behavioural ecology literature, little has been documented on Hadza ritual activity. Nor has it been placed in context of myth and narrative. This is a serious lack given the agreement of both social anthropology (Durkheim, Turner, Rappaport) and more recent evolutionary approaches, eg Sosis and Bulbulia, on the cent...
Conference Paper
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Human prosociality and intersubjectivity evolved on a basis of a female kin-bonded cooperative breeding system. This appears to have prevailed among our immediate ancestors in Africa, on the evidence of population genetics among African foragers. The final phase of brain expansion (300-200 ka) in archaic Homo sapiens required contexts of increasing...
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Reproductive synchrony or desynchrony of primate females influences number and fitness of males in mating systems. Langur monkey populations provide a natural experiment for observing alternative female strategies of confusing or concentrating paternity. Where females escape seasonal reproductive constraints, they desynchronize fertility and show v...
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On the eve of the royal wedding, two anthropologists and an actor – members of a street theatre troupe known as ‘The Government of the Dead’– were arrested for conspiracy to stage a performance. We adopt a Bakhtinian perspective of carnival laughter as essential to the scientific investigation of officialdom and ceremonial power.
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IntroductionThe Three ModelsConsumption, Production, and Provisioning of OffspringGrandmother Availability: !Kung vs HadzaSummary of Chimp vs Forager Production and ConsumptionThe Homo erectus ModelDiscussionConclusion
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The arena of social and sexual relations, with both cooperation and conflict endemic in complex multimale, multifemale social groups, is most promising for generating elaborate signal systems (cf. Mφller 1997). A number of models have been presented in the past decade highlighting sexual selection as the driving force in linguistic and cultural sig...
Conference Paper
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Language has sometimes been described as a ‘mirror of mind’. Chomsky attributes this idea to ‘the first cognitive revolution’ inspired by Descartes among others in the seventeenth century. ‘The second cognitive revolution’ – triggered in large measure by Chomsky’s own work – is taken to have been a twentieth century rediscovery of these earlier ins...
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Only by misconstruing the term performative are the authors able to argue that males surpass females in “performative applications” of language. Linguistic performatives are not costly displays of quality, and syntax cannot be explained as an outcome of behavioural competition between pubertal males. However, there is room for a model in which lang...
Chapter
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In this chapter I will first discuss women's role in the emergence of art. I will then show how this evolutionary approach can illuminate imagery of women in art from the European Upper Paleolithic and African Later Stone Age. Current Darwinian models argue that female strategies drove the ear-liest symbolic behavior. As brain sizes increased in Ho...
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Language has no counterpart in the animal world. Unique to Homo sapiens, it appears inseparable from human nature. But how, when and why did it emerge? The contributors to this volume - linguists, anthropologists, cognitive scientists, and others - adopt a modern Darwinian perspective which offers a bold synthesis of the human and natural sciences....
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Arguments that symbolism started with sham menstruation rituals.
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In certain African hunter-gatherer cultures (the Khoisan and Hadza), gender appears mutable and paradoxicalwith respect to sex. Duringinitiation ritual, girls acquire 'masculine' characteristics, such as penises and hunting weapons; boys are treated as menstruants. Anthropological models of a hierar- chized 'masculine' v. 'feminine', correlated wit...
Article
Dans cet article, les auteurs s'interrogent sur la synchronie de la reproduction chez les hominides comme strategie d'evolution stable, notamment sur les conditions (demographie, composition des groupes des femelles fertiles, etc.) et les manifestations (saisonnalite) de cette synchronie
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By 50,000 years ago, the effects of a ‘symbolic explosion’ — an efflorescence of human art, song, dance and ritual — were rippling across the globe. Applied to archaeological evidence, standard neo-Darwinian theory offers new understandings of this improbable event. The present article defines ‘symbolism’, models quasi-ritual behaviour in late arch...
Working Paper
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So, men 'set up society', according to Helena Cronin (Profile August 28). I usually shrug aside the routine media distortions of evolutionary theory applied to human behaviour — the 'higgamous, hoggamous' stereotypes about men running around while women stay put. But when someone with the influence of the author of The Ant and the Peacock puts up a...
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Aristophanes, born about 450BC, was at the height of his powers during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. His three comedies of sexual subversion — Λυσιστρατη (Lysistrata), Θεσµoφoριαζoυσαι (Thesmophoriazusai) and 'Eκκλησιαζoυσαι (Ekklesiazusai) — are the remaining examples of what may have been a traditional 'feminist' or gynocratic...
Article
Let's start with some biological reductionism, provided in generous helpings by E. O. Wilson in Sociobiology: the New Synthesis (1975). In his retort to Wilson's work, The Use and Abuse of Biology, Marshall Sahlins underlined his belief that " the theory of sociobiology has an intrinsic ideological dimension, in fact a profound historical relation...
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By the rule of exogamy, a woman must produce children for her own matrilineal descent group in marriage with a man from another group. If she leaves her own group to join her husband (virilocal marriage), 'her matrikin have to contrive .... to keep control of the children, who are legally identified with them.' If on the other hand she remains with...

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Projects (2)
Project
The Revolutionary Sex centres on sexual strategies and counter-strategies – a dynamic arms race between the sexes – as the main engine of the evolution of human cultural cognition and symbolic behaviour. My book argues that strategic conflict and cooperation between the sexes intensified as offspring became larger-brained and so more costly to mothers in terms of time and energy required to care for them. Resistance to male dominance and exploitation culminated in a revolutionary outcome – human symbolic culture and communication.