The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2018 | 3 to 4:30 P.M.

Reservations are requested to Marschak RSVP

Evolutionary Pathways to Statehood: Old Theories and New Data

Speaker: Peter Turchin, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology, University of Connecticut; External Professor, Complexity Science Hub, Vienna, Austria

Faculty Host: Aaron Blaisdell, Professor of Psychology, UCLA

Over the past 10,000 years, human societies evolved from small egalitarian groups, integrated by face-to-face interactions, to huge, anonymous societies of millions, characterized by wealth and power differentials, division of labor, governance structures, and information systems. One aspect of this “major evolutionary transition” that excites intense debate is the origins and evolution of the state as a politically centralized territorial polity with internally specialized administrative organization. Different theories proposed by early theorists and contemporary social scientists make different predictions about causal processes driving the rise of state-level social organization.

In this talk Peter Turchin will use the global history databank Seshat to empirically test predictions of several theories. He will present results of a dynamical regression analysis that estimates how the evolution of specialized governance structures was affected by such factors as social scale, including population and territorial expansion; social stratification; provision of public goods; and information systems.

Turchin is an evolutionary anthropologist working in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics. His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural evolution, historical macrosociology, economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modeling of longterm social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.

Light refreshments will be served.