Multiple Perspectives on the Evolution of Childhood

Advanced Seminar

November 4–8, 2012

Multiple Perspectives on the Evolution of ChildhoodMultiple Perspectives on the Evolution of ChildhoodAdvanced Seminar Co-chaired by Alyssa N. Crittenden, Lincy Foundation Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Courtney L. Meehan, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, November 4–8, 2012.Multiple Perspectives on the Evolution of ChildhoodAdvanced Seminar Co-chaired by Alyssa N. Crittenden, Lincy Foundation Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Courtney L. Meehan, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, November 4–8, 2012.

Research into the evolution of childhood and the diversity of children's experiences around the world had attracted significant attention in recent years. However, an international group of scholars had yet to come together to address divergent views and integrate current theoretical and methodological divides. Drawing on experts in biological, cultural, nutritional, linguistic, and cognitive anthropology, as well as primatology, developmental psychology, and paleoarchaeology, this advanced seminar convened to explore the following questions: What is human childhood? How does childhood dependency affect human organization? Is the emergence of human language and social cognition intrinsically linked to the evolution of human childhood? And how can scholars integrate the multiple domains of childhood research? The seminar aimed to cross disciplinary divides and integrate multiple domains of childhood research.

Seminar chairs reported several key discussions resulted in the five-day seminar. First, the question of how different fields define “childhood” contributed to particularly lively discussion and debate throughout the week. Second, while human childhood has been generally considered to be novel, recent genetic and endocrinological data suggest that other primates experience a developmental phase that is similar to human childhood. Third, the role that extended altricality in humans has played on the development of childhood experience, intersubjectivity, sociality, and cognition was explored. Fourth, attention was paid to the role and responsibility of evolutionary anthropologists in the implementation of public health policy.

The development of an edited volume of the results of the seminar was planned as a follow up to the seminar.

Alyssa N. Crittenden, Chair Lincy Foundation Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Juvenile Foraging among the Hadza: Implications for the Evolution of Childhood, Human Life History, and Cooperative Breeding
Courtney L. Meehan, Chair Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University Flexibility in Allomaternal Support: Key to Human Cooperative Breeding?
Robin Bernstein Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University Comparative Endocrinology of Childhood Growth
Barry Bogin Professor of Biological Anthropology, School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, United Kingdom Childhood, Biocultural Reproduction, Human Reproductive Effort, and Longevity
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis Comes the Child Before Man: Development Plus Social Selection in the Emergence of "Emotionally Modern" Humans
Melvin Konner Samuel C. Dobbs Professor, Department of Anthropology, Emory University Hunter-Gatherer Infancy and Childhood in the Context of Human Evolution
David F. Lancy Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Social Work, & Anthropology, Utah State University Ethnographic Perspectives on Cultural Transmission/Acquisition
Sanae Okamoto-Barth Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands Social and Cognitive Development in Humans and Chimpanzees from a Comparative Perspective
Daniel Sellen Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Hunter-Gatherer Infancy and Childhood in the Context of Human Evolution
Jennifer L. Thompson Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Evolution of the Pattern of Growth and Development in the Genus Homo

Sponsored by Paloheimo Foundation

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