Understanding Warfare: An Evolutionary Approach

Michael L. Wilson, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

6:00 PM Thursday, April 16, 2015 at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138)


RWS Imoso showing Fangs, Photo by Becky Sun Warfare is a nearly universal trait of human societies. It has influenced the evolution of human societies at least since the dawn of history, and may have influenced the evolution of human psychology. By some definitions, warfare is uniquely human; no other species engages in armed combat using manufactured weapons. But in other respects, human warfare bears much in common with intergroup aggression in a range of species, from ants to chimpanzees. Michael Wilson will discuss how an evolutionary perspective on warfare can help shed light on why people fight and what they can do to make war less likely to occur.

A reception will follow in the Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures exhibition; galleries will remain open until 9:00 PM. 

Download a letter-size poster.

Presented by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard Museum of Natural History