3. Rethink Evolution

For Cultural Anthropology 2021, I had been excited to revisit the brilliant essay by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, “Anthropology and the Savage Slot.” I assigned this essay in 2016, but when I began to re-read it for this course, it was particularly incomprehensible. So we switched gears to ponder two readings that built on the previous class in terms of helping us rethink evolution. For the next class we delve into anthropological research methods.

We read “The Descent of Man,” 150 years on by Agustin Fuentes and Did Dads Evolve? by Elizabeth Preston.

For the Fuentes editorial, we considered how Fuentes helps us rethink evolution and portrayals of Darwin. Also interesting is that Fuentes got a HUGE backlash for writing this, from angry tweets to hate mail to a formal letter signed by prominent evolutionary biologists. Jonathan Marks discusses the backlash in an entertaining blog-post The Good, The Bad, and the Scientists Who Don’t Know the Difference.

For the Preston article on “Dads” we discussed how the material on mountain gorillas helped us rethink evolution and the standard ideas we have about non-human primate behavior.