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University of Oregon

Evolution of Warfare

ICDS draws on diverse bodies of theory and evidence to understand the human condition. These include cultural comparisons, biological evolutionary history, and the archaeological record.

Over the last two decades, Darwinian theory has proven to be a heuristic that can be applied across all of these fields and thus fundamentally alter our understanding of human behavior. The potential of an evolutionary approach for the study of war is immense, but has not been fully realized. Understanding the role of war in hominid evolution is critical to understanding our species, but scholarly exchange on this topic has been hampered by lack of suitable forums. Analysis of war behavior requires expertise from a wide range of anthropological sub-fields (e.g., primatology, paleo-anthropology, archaeology, behavioral ecology, ethnography) and related disciplines (e.g., political science, evolutionary biology), but these groups do not regularly interact at national or international anthropological meetings.

In 2008 ICDS held a workshop to bring together evolution-minded scholars from Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. who represent the full spectrum of sub-disciplines requisite to delineating the role war has played in the evolution of our species. We worked to catalyze focused discussion among scholars whose research has significantly advanced understanding of the role of war in human evolution, with the target of developing an integrated model for the study of this phenomenon.

Download War Conference Program