ANTH4009W: Warfare and Human Evolution

3 CreditsEnvironmentWriting Intensive

Armed, violent conflict among groups – warfare – is a distinctive and devastating trait of many human societies. The practice of warfare brings together a number of unusual characteristics of our species, including the ability to cooperate, to discuss plans, and to make and use weapons, which together combine to create immense human suffering. War has long been a central topic of anthropologists, who have raised many questions. Is warfare a human universal? Are there truly peaceful societies? Why does war occur more often at some times and places than others? How, when and why did warfare evolve? What, if anything, does warfare have to do with intergroup aggression in other animals? What role has warfare, or its more primitive antecedents, played in the evolution of our species? Efforts to explain war have themselves been contentious, with some scholars arguing that war is a recent phenomenon resulting from factors such the development of agriculture, and other scholars arguing that war is an evolutionarily ancient phenomenon with roots in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. In this seminar, we will read and discuss classic and recent texts on this broad and often divisive subject. To better assess the arguments presented in survey and theoretical papers, we will read original ethnographic materials, with each student choosing one subsistence society as the focus of their research efforts.

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A- Average (3.667)Most Common: A (54%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

13 students
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  • 4.58


  • 4.65


  • 4.50


  • 4.58



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