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Primeval Kinship: How Pair-Bonding Gave Birth to Human Societyby Bernard Chapais
Synopses & Reviews
At some point in the course of evolution--from a primeval social organization of early hominids--all human societies, past and present, would emerge. In this account of the dawn of human society, Bernard Chapais shows that our knowledge about kinship and society in nonhuman primates supports, and informs, ideas first put forward by the distinguished social anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Chapais contends that only a few evolutionary steps were required to bridge the gap between the kinship structures of our closest relatives--chimpanzees and bonobos--and the human kinship configuration. The pivotal event, the author proposes, was the evolution of sexual alliances. Pair-bonding transformed a social organization loosely based on kinship into one exhibiting the strong hold of kinship and affinity. The implication is that the gap between chimpanzee societies and pre-linguistic hominid societies is narrower than we might think.
Many books on kinship have been written by social anthropologists, but Primeval Kinship is the first book dedicated to the evolutionary origins of human kinship. And perhaps equally important, it is the first book to suggest that the study of kinship and social organization can provide a link between social and biological anthropology.
In this account of the dawn of human society, Chapais shows that our knowledge about kinship and society in nonhuman primates supports, and informs, ideas first put forward by the distinguished social anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Chapais contends that only a few evolutionary steps were required to bridge the gap between the kinship structures of our closest relatives--chimpanzees and bonobos--and the human kinship configuration.
2010 W.W. Howells Book Prize, Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association
Honorable Mention, 2008 Association of American Publishers PROSE Award, Biological Sciences Category
About the Author
Bernard Chapais is Professor of Anthropology, University of Montréal.
University of Montreal
Table of Contents
1. The Question of the Origin of Human Society
I. Primatologists As Evolutionary Historians
2. Primatology and the Evolution of Human Behavior
3. The Uterine Kinship Legacy
4. From Biological to Cultural Kinship
5. The Incest Avoidance Legacy
6. From Behavioral Regularities to Institutionalized Rules
II. The Exogamy Configuration Decomposed
7. Lévi-Strauss and the Deep Structure of Human Society
8. Human Society Out of the Evolutionary Vacuum
9. The Building Blocks of Exogamy
III. The Exogamy Configuration Reconstructed
10. The Ancestral Male Kin Group Hypothesis
11. The Evolutionary History of Pair-Bonding
12 Pair-Bonding and the Reinvention of Kinship
13. Biparentality and the Transformation of Siblingships
14. Beyond the Local Group: The Rise of the Tribe
15. From Male Philopatry to Residential Diversity
16. Brothers, Sisters, and the Founding Principle of Exogamy
IV. Unilineal Descent
17. Filiation, Descent, and Ideology
18. The Primate Origins of Unilineal Descent Groups
19. The Evolutionary History of Human Descent
20. Conclusion: Human Society as Contingent
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