There’s a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society out on the theme of Cultural and linguistic diversity: evolutionary approaches.
From the introduction:
Evolutionary approaches to cultural change are increasingly influential, and many scientists believe that a ‘grand synthesis’ is now in sight. The papers in this Theme Issue, which derives from a sym- posium held by the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity (University College London) in December 2008, focus on how the phylogenetic tree-building and network-based tech- niques used to estimate descent relationships in biology can be adapted to reconstruct cultural histories, where some degree of inter-societal diffusion will almost inevitably be superimposed on any deeper signal of a historical branching process.
- Transmission coupling mechanisms: cultural group selection – Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson
- Cultural traits as units of analysis – Michael J. O’Brien, R. Lee Lyman, Alex Mesoudi, and Todd L. VanPool
- Simulating trait evolution for cross-cultural comparison – Charles L. Nunn, Christian Arnold, Luke Matthews, and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
- Measuring the diffusion of linguistic change – John Nerbonne
- Splits or waves? Trees or webs? How divergence measures and network analysis can unravel language histories – Paul Heggarty, Warren Maguire, and April McMahon
- Historical linguistics in Australia: trees, networks and their implications – Claire Bowern
- Language shift, bilingualism and the future of Britain’s Celtic languages – Anne Kandler, Roman Unger, and James Steele
- The cophylogeny of populations and cultures: reconstructing the evolution of Iranian tribal craft traditions using trees and jungles – Jamshid J. Tehrani, Mark Collard, and Stephen J. Shennan
- Untangling cultural inheritance: language diversity and long-house architecture on the Pacific northwest coast – Peter Jordan and Sean O’Neill
- Phylogenetic analyses of Lapita decoration do not support branching evolution or regional population structure during colonization of Remote Oceania – Ethan E. Cochrane and Carl P. Lipo
- Is horizontal transmission really a problem for phylogenetic comparative methods? A simulation study using continuous cultural traits – Thomas E. Currie, Simon J. Greenhill, and Ruth Mace
- Your place or mine? A phylogenetic comparative analysis of marital residence in Indo-European and Austronesian societies – Laura Fortunato and Fiona Jordan
On the shape and fabric of human history – Russell D. Gray, David Bryant, and Simon J. Greenhill