Material Behaviour: Evolution

Lecture 2 in a lecture series by Visiting Professor Roland Fletcher (University of Sydney).

2018.06.08 | Christina Levisen

Date Mon 18 Jun
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University, Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark, Building 4230-232


An introduction to the operation of cultural evolution. Evolutionary concepts in the humanities have been adversely affected by the erroneous 19th century, socio-political conflation of the theories of Darwin and Spencer. Cultural concepts have also been divided between combinations of over-extrapolation from biological processes or the assumed primacy of sociality. Once Material Behaviour is introduced to evolutionary theory as a operator in its own right, the specification of a theory of cultural evolution changes profoundly. Instead of one dominant code with one copying rate as in genetic replication,  cultural replication involves three codes each with a different internal structure, a different physical form and different replication rates. Because the rate of copying alteration (or error) is a function of the rate of replication, culture inherently contains a tendency to non-correspondence over time between material signals, actions and speech. This has profound implications for the internal dynamics of cultural change and the long-term patterns of cultural transformation.   

About the lecture and workshop series

The series consists of three lectures held on Monday from 12:00-13:00 at UrbNet, AU Campus Moesgaard (bldg. 4230, room 232). Questions sent by email to about each lecture would be most welcome.

Each lecture is accompanied by a discussion workshop on Tuesday from 14:00-15:00 at UrbNet, AU Campus Moesgaard (bldg. 4230, room 232). The questions and the workshop discussions will help to identify what needs to be clarified, to identify new issues and to reveal new research possibilities.

The aim is to use the lecture series in 2018 to develop the first three chapters for a nine chapter book on Material Behaviour.

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology