UCLA » College » Social Sciences » Anthropology
November 20, 2017
12:00pm to 1:30pm
Haines 352 Reading Room
Avery Lopez


Relative to non-human primates, humans are heavily reliant on social connections beyond the boundaries of their local communities. However, individuals vary in the extent to which they exhibit interest in extra-community relationships. How did humans come to have such pronounced tolerance toward extra-community individuals, and what are the relevant payoffs that modulate interest in extra-community relationships? To address these questions, I first identify the incentive structures favoring tolerance in inter-group encounters in the Primate order. Turning to ethnographic and ethnohistoric data, I emphasize how incentives for encounter are even more pronounced in humans, often with high payoffs to forming enduring social relationships via inter-group encounters. I then focus on the instantiations of these relationships among three populations of Bolivian horticulturalists, for whom integration to the national economy is changing the affordances of these connections. I discuss the extent to which an individual’s interest in extra-community relationships varies with her opportunities for access to market goods, experience of resource shortfalls, and perceptions of the qualities of extra-community individuals as social partners. I conclude by identifying candidate ways forward, including how we might better document the existence of extra-community relationships in the field and formulate informed hypotheses about the relevant incentive structures favoring, or disfavoring, these relationships.

The BEC Speaker Series hosts presentations by renowned scholars from across the social, behavioral, and biological sciences whose work sheds light on human evolution, including issues of cultural transmission, behavioral ecology, affect, cognition, and health.