Biweekly Colloquia: The Origins of War: Demonic Males or Avengers of wrongs? (Paul Roscoe / Anthropology at the University of Maine, USA)

Jul 10, 2023 from 04:15 PM to 05:45 PM

Leibnizstraße 1, room 204

Paul Roscoe • Anthropology at the University of Maine, USA

Extrapolating from data on conspecific killing in chimpanzees and several other animal species, an important theory for the origins of war proposes that males have evolved a dominance drive, a disposition to seek out low cost opportunities to kill that pays off in terms of mates and material resources. This presentation places this “Demonic Male” claim within current evolutionary theorizing about the origins of war in order to critique it on both theoretical and empirical grounds. Drawing on the stated causes of 1,068 military actions in contact-era New Guinea, the presentation proposes that war evolved not from a male disposition to kill but from the proclivity in numerous species to punish or avenge infringements on individual and collective wellbeing. This finding casts doubt on widespread claims that chimpanzees practice a primitive form of human lethal raiding.

 Biweekly Colloquia Abstract: Paul Roscoe

Add to your iCal calendar



Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions