Methods for Human History
Everyone has a place in life and a perspective that reflects their individual experiences and interests. Additionally, most adults have an education and have acquired knowledge on a range of topics. Some of my recent work examines these two concepts, as demonstrated by the following essays on five basic methods that have defined human life and society.
Three Processes of Evolution in Human Households
Households, the basic residential units of humans, are here traced in their long-term historical changes through the methodology of evolutionary theory. The genetic change of biological evolution is shown to have been supplemented by two other mechanisms of change. Cultural evolution, the exchange of knowledge among brains, and social evolution, the formation of self-conscious groups that brought spoken language and social institutions. An animated simulation accompanies this essay.
Individuals and Types of Group Behavior
Humans have overlapping frameworks for behavior: as individuals, as members of informal groups or networks, and as members of one or more institutions. This essay explores differences within the notions of “intentionality” and “collective intentionality,” which have become important in philosophical, biological, and historical explanations of behavior in humans and their hominin ancestors.
Theorizing Networks in World History
Networks can be theorized as fields of informal human contact that are linked to institutions and families at scales from local to global. This essay provides basic network definitions; shows links among various types and theories of networks; and identifies basic networks, “small-world networks,” networks in cultural analysis, social networks in primates and humans, and networks in world history.
Historians of science have traditionally neglected the world, while world historians have neglected changes in knowledge. But, as demonstrated by these three books published by the World History Center (2016–2018), both analyses can be combined to enhance one another. The texts focus on the translation of knowledge (1000–1800 CE), links of knowledge among world regions (1700–1800), and global transformations of life sciences (1940–1990).
Published in History of Humanity (2020)
The distribution of languages and their speakers—today and in the past—gives important insights into migration and other historical experiences. This collection of maps and essays shows how language distribution reflects major changes in history. Further data and analysis from this project can be found at the Language Distribution Worldwide Dataverse.