Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution
Speaker(s): Sebastian Junger, Mahzarin Banaji, Alison Brooks, Molly Crockett, Francis Fukuyama, Joshua Greene, Polly Wiessner, Richard Wrangham
September 19, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
A Leakey Foundation Survival Symposium
Once essential for human survival, our innate desire to belong now threatens to destroy us. At a moment when our world feels dangerously fragmented and unstable, “Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution” brings together Sebastian Junger, Francis Fukuyama, Richard Wrangham, and other scholars from top universities to confront the role our tribal instincts play in building communities – and tearing them apart through partisanship, racism, and xenophobia.
Brought to you by The Leakey Foundation, this landmark symposium will draw on science, politics, psychology and more to examine the evolutionary origins and function of tribalism, its influence on history, and the role it plays in our increasingly divided world. It’s more urgent than ever for us to understand the power of our tribal nature, and how we can harness its best qualities to resist its worst.
Author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging Award-winning author, filmmaker, and journalist
Journalist Sebastian Junger is the New York Times-bestselling author of "Tribe," "War," "The Perfect Storm," "Fire," and "A Death in Belmont," and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. As the host and moderator of "Our Tribal Nature" he will deliver a keynote that reflects on the importance of tribalism to our past, present, and future survival.
Department Chair of Psychology Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics Harvard University
Dr. Mahzarin Banaji studies thinking and feeling as they unfold in social context, as well as social attitudes and beliefs—especially ones with roots in group membership. She’ll examine how our tribal nature operates within a broader social hierarchy and how our relative position within that hierarchy can influence our behavior.
Professor Department of Anthropology George Washington University
A paleoanthropologist and archaeologist interested in the origins of our species, Dr. Alison Brooks has worked on multiple continents documenting evidence of the human behaviors that create large-scale social networks and communities. She will review early archaeological evidence of tribalism, exploring the role such communities played in the evolution of modern humans.
Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Yale University
Dr. Molly Crockett’s lab investigates the psychological and neural mechanisms of human morality, altruism, and economic decision-making. She’ll explore how tribal psychology influences the use and impact of social media.
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University
Dr. Francis Fukuyama is a political scientist and economist. He is the author of "The End of History and the Last Man," "Political Order and Political Decay," and "Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment," among other books. He will talk about our social transition from tribes to states and the propensity of states to seek legitimacy through tribal-like identities, which encourages the rise of xenophobia and nationalism.
Professor of Psychology Harvard University
Author of "Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them," Dr. Joshua Greene is an experimental psychologist, neuroscientist, and philosopher who studies moral judgment and decision-making. He will look at moral conflicts within and between groups and the benefits and costs of tribalistic institutions in contemporary societies.
Professor Department of Anthropology University of Utah
Dr. Polly Weissner is an anthropologist who has studied tribes all over the world, from the San of the Kalahari Desert to the Enga in the lush mountains of Papua New Guinea. She will discuss why and how tribes form, the emotional and psychological impact of tribal culture on members, and how our tribal nature is evolving in our current political climate.
Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology Department of Human Evolutionary Biology Harvard University
Dr. Richard Wrangham conducts extensive research on primate ecology, nutrition, and social behavior. He is best known for his books "Demonic Males," about the evolution of human warfare, and "Catching Fire," which looks at the role of cooking in human evolution. He will reveal the underlying psychology of human tribal behavior and explain why it is so distinct from that of other animals.
Survival brings together seven world-renowned speakers and researchers for an inspiring evening of short talks moderated by Emmy Award-winning journalist Miles O’Brien. Join Ruth DeFries, Daniel Lieberman, Stuart Pimm, Steven Pinker, Pardis Sabeti, Daniel Schrag and Richard Wrangham as we explore our past, present, and future.