One Man’s Meat: Further Thoughts on the Evolution of Animal Food Taboos

Professor James Serpell

Although meat is said to be the most highly prized category of food in the majority of human cultures, it is also, according to a recent ethnographic survey, “vastly more likely to be the target of food taboos,” than any other type of edible substance.[1] People throughout the world display strong aversions to killing and

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The Nature and Culture of Birds

When it comes to birds, difference looms in classifications of “things that fly”—in particular at the most inclusive levels termed in scientific biological classification the class, order, and family. But might the nature of particular birds bring them into the spotlight for attention regardless of culture, setting them up for similar conception (discrimination, naming, specificity in taxonomy), even if perception inevitably is fundamentally cultural?

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Animalia: the Natural World, Art, and Theory

Egbé eja leja ?wè tò, egbé eye leye ?wò lé Fish swim in a school of their own kind; Birds fly in a flock of their own kind. Yoruba Proverb

We mention nature and forget ourselves in it. Friedrich Nietzsche

So engrained is the trope of the animal in the West that animal

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Does Culture Prevent or Drive Human Evolution?

As a molecular anthropologist, my research involves using genetic data to address questions of anthropological interest about the origins, history, migration, structure, and relationships of human populations. I frequently am asked to give lectures to nonspecialist audiences on insights from genetics into human evolution, and invariably during the ensuing discussion period the viewpoint will be

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Wild Animals and a Different Human Face

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Tennessee Williams

To understand portions of one’s own culture demands a lifetime; to become familiar with another’s depends upon a host of enthusiastic interpreters, attentive listening, experiencing a multitude of unfamiliar activities, a receptive heart, and good fortune. Throughout my life, a major

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How Humans Became Such Other-Regarding Apes

I am an anthropologist and primate sociobiologist who seeks to understand, step by Darwinian step, how apes could have evolved to imagine and care about what the lives of others might be like. I believe that such questing for inter-subjective engagement laid the foundations for significant later developments such as language and cumulative culture. My

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Biopower, Dignity, Synthetic Anthropos

Whatever the terms “biopower” and “biopolitics” might mean, and they are being used in a growing number of simplistic ways, most of which bear scant relation to how Michel Foucault deployed them. Foucault’s genealogical elaboration of these terms had been conceptual, historical and non-totalizing. Above all, Foucault deployed concepts like “biopower” or “governmentality” in a

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