A Conversation with Irven DeVore

I’m Peter Ellison John Cole’s professor of anthropology and human evolutionary biology at Harvard and co-editor of the annual review of anthropology I’m talking today with my longtime mentor and friend professor Irvin Devore the Ruth be professor of anthropology emeritus at harvard university professor d’ivoire and I have known each other for all of my professional career and a good portion of his professor Devore your career has been truly remarkable it reads as if it were three people’s careers covering some of the most pivotal events and in biological anthropology including primate behavior hunter-gatherer studies and the introduction of evolutionary theory into the understanding of human behavior and yet you were trained as a social anthropologist I’d like to start if we might by asking you to recall the beginning of your relationship with the late cherry Washburn and explain to us how you ever decided to study the social behavior of baboons well it’s accident really I I was a social anthropology major as an undergraduate University Texas and and was admitted in the social program at Chicago graduate school and all I ever intended to do at the end of my first year when not to do field work with meskwaki Indians and had quite an eventful summer but but one that was not terribly satisfying i began to i began to think seriously about social anthropology and whether i was really fitted for it and i’ve been equally interested in animals since i was young i think at the age of six i had 25 different animal my parents are very long suffering and I’ve always been interested in their behavior just understanding their behavior so I I did I wasn’t social anthology majors an undergraduate and then was admitted in that to Chicago and I had never given any thought to animal behavior as a serious enterprise as a hobby I didn’t know you could do that even came from pretty impoverished part of East Texas and but during that summer of field work my shirt after my first year they had a summer out on them squawky Indian settlement thema Iowa and for the first time I had to confront seriously what it was like to do serious social anthropology and I began to feel more and more that I was not suited for it i leased the way she was understood at that time and well and this feeling grew over the years and I explained that slightly the when I felt like I was not ready to be a really good parent until I was about 40 now that’s a strange time in the human career but by then I knew that in our culture a good parent had to fill in for the aunts aunts and uncles the grandparents the nephews denise’s the cousins all of those people who were a support group we take we banish so to speak our nuclear families to isolation and tall apartment buildings and anyone who’s had a child with a colleague for two straight nights and is trying to go to graduate school so on knows why the temptation is almost overwhelming to smother it or do something well of course and our millions of years or hundreds of thousands years we had this tight social group around us almost immediately when the mother was getting frazzled one of these women i was almost usually a woman would come

over take the baby feed it and calm it down maybe sleep with it we don’t have that and and we can’t with we don’t even think that we should be prepared to give those kind of things and well then I thought well socialized apology is wearing on me because I don’t think that the people who write up the monographs are really prepared to do it I mean they’re just too young I mean here you have a graduate student just out of college probably about 20 to 22 anyway early mid 20s going out to a strange place maybe they’ve never been more than two states away from home and here they are in Fiji and they’re sitting and talking to people who are grandparents and parents since they were 14 and on and so on and trying to understand them well in fact of course what happens is the anthropologist discovers herself or himself reflected in all of these conversations but that’s you’re not allowed to write that up or you shouldn’t because who wants to read about brown-skinned Americans you know or so to speak so you got to find an angle and always the anthropologist finds an angle which is new its original contribution of knowledge well I’m I’m rattling on about this but I came to feel it very strongly I never gave up that feeling really of course there are people who can rise above those limitations but it is serious limitation and the other thing that bothered me particularly was that as opposed to science where if you perform experiments the novel and it’s important five or six other people are down to the labs early the next morning trying to replicate it whereas in anthropology if you dare to go to the village some anthropologists have been to before you ridden out of the profession that’s just not gentlemanly thing to do well so what what are we left with a gazillion individual accounts of cultures and no comparative work at all well that was at mood I was in when I came back in that field work and salt tax it was marvelous man one of the great men of the 20th century in many many ways but anyway he he was head of something called action anthropology which we were doing out in skokie country tima by the way they’ve called sac and fox during the plains indian days and they’re all they call themselves meskwaki so i’m sorry if i confuse people we talked about my experience and he said well you know we kind of like you to take over the project well lit this was very flattering I wow this may be my big chance so I said let me think about it over the weekend and soul and I had gotten to be very close so i come back and i said no i’m just not the person to do that he says well I’m sorry to hear that do you like animals I said I love animal he said I want you to meet someone and we walked down the hall he opens the door puts his hand in the middle of my back and shoves me a sherry here’s your man that turns and leaves and here’s the guy I’ve never seen before turns out to be sure would wash burn one of the two or three most eminent of physical anthropologist in America bounds up out of his chair and comes over shakes my hand sciences so you’re going to be my teaching co I said oh there’s some mistake I had four years of public speaking in high school and for more in college improved you know I was a national debate champion so on I don’t feel like I need that experience and I have a fellowship to pace all my expenses I I just don’t want to do it I mean I’d rather put my he said I didn’t ask if like sherry that’s eerie sherry was a man of strong opinions but he was not usually that brusk anyway that was the best thing to ever happen to me within a few Oh two or three weeks really I just adored the man he had more ideas per day then I had heard from all my other contacts in anthropology in my whole career which was not that long but he just spun ideas

off and they were original and they were fun and they were not all true or even worth following up but the part of your job or your graduate student was to help separate the drawers from the gold anyway he was just so exciting to be around and if he had if he had tried to recruit me to go to oh I don’t know on a Mars expedition and studied paramecia I would have done it goes if he said it was important I would know it was uh well the interesting thing is he had just come back from field trip in Africa and excuse me he was over there watching well he’s over there doing anatomy on baboons they were doing berman control operations in bringing these baboons in and he got so interested in watching their behavior he would diss sector by boom very quickly then even have a day to sit on the veranda of the victoria falls hotel and drink Pimm’s number ones and watched the baboons of the garden and they just so fascinated him he came back he was determined to get somebody to study behavior above them and the way explained it to me was he said you know primates are wonderful and by the way he had been on the original Asia Asiatic primate expert ape I stay with Adolf Schultz and see very carpenter he was the graduate student from the harbour who’s on it so he he bought it watch behavior off and on for various reason and he said but you know nobody who is interested are sophisticated about behaviors ever study primate it’s always a physiological psychologist or an experimental psychologist or whatever I want somebody who is a customer thing about complex social organizations because that’s what they’ve got so I said well I’m your man and well I had a wonderful time in Kenya but Andy and sherry join me toward the end his family and my family didn’t route there together for a little while but it’s hard to hard to tell you how isolated how pioneering I film nobody was studying animal behavior in any country that is seriously studying it I when I finally taught my first course in primate behavior at Berkeley I didn’t have a single book on primates to assign and so I sign virtually every good monograph there was on him behave and I fill a small show f Fraser darling on the Red Deer bruh Ptolemy and bird salon elephant seals JP Scott on sheep I mean you know well that was a very good way to approach primates in the way but when I got to Africa there was nobody studying animals in Africa or filming him the best film was one called African lion and for its day it was wonderful first really good animal behavior film to come out of the while it was shot by two amateurs who were retired couple and they just camped at a waterhole for three years and shot lion footage and came back and God help right you also used film in your own studies of baboons and people in my generation grew up watching urban Devore’s 16-millimeter baboon behavior films yes well as in so many things sherry Washburn was behind that he was absolutely determined that other people see these fabulous animals so turned him on and so he wanted me to make film on our friend my first study and I didn’t have a camera but I finally figured out that there were these cameramen amateur cameraman in Nairobi Kenya but would go out and shoot the great white hunter potting his lion air is elephant and I heard one of these guys for a week and we went out every day in and shot footage and I came back and edited it and it got what they called grand aureus Lee the Oscar in those years it was a blue ribbon and I don’t know educational film whatever there was one of those that I remember I also had a botanist with me from the museum because I was identifying the plants that they ate and I had some that I didn’t have samples

though and we pulled up by this little pool and there’s his lioness just across it and the pool was no bigger than this room hardly this big and she was very close to the other side and we were so I wanted a water lily at the Babylon see so I get up so I start to get out and she hunkers John grout and i think is she flopping back and how much do I want to know so I said well I’ll try a little bit more so I opened the door a little bit more and put one leg and she cowers again and the guy sweating buckets he says never mind I know the speed I know the genius we can just let the species go back right well years later when I was working in Cambridge was a very very heads-up group called a shin Development Center mm-hmm we got extraordinary manner in mighty name Jerrold Zacharias was decided to siphon off some of the large amounts of money being thrown at the curriculum after Sputnik went up I mean America panicked why are our kids in our you know and he thought you know one of the things that needs help most is not just math engineer it’s the social sciences so a group at Harvard and I hired a lot of helpers started this very ambitious project we were going to do kindergarten through twelfth grade social studies where were we naive but we as part of this they hired me to basically to do the baboon story for fifth graders and it got a lot of money to do film in in Washington by the way there was a unit of measurement called the Zack the Zack was 250 thousand dollars because that was the smallest amount he would talk in terms of in any budget he was negotiating anyway that got me money and I was able to hire top Disney photographer director and sound and so on and we did it right I used those films for many many years particularly in my case and that this is proven to be what’s lasted about them to show the individuality in the homes it was easy to show in the males because they were so bravura but it was true females as well and I showed that in a film called dynamics of male dominance which was not for fifth graders I made all these films for fifth graders and I said may I make one for my for my peer group so to speak and I I also trained him I used him sweet oook him in real time and with the wild abyss sound Cory first time any of us knew Disney knew because this was his big animal man the director that synchronized sound had ever been taken in the while I always lead to soundtrack in separately which is mighty good elephants yawning and that the soundtrack is trumpeting you know and vultures are symbolic they hover in a dead tree over the dead animal or person and well it’s silent death vultures among the noisiest animals on earth and they fight over every scrap and it’s a cacophonous down so kids in the fifth grade began to gets the idea right oh and we didn’t put any sound tried sorry narration on the film’s we showed them really authentic films and they were just so eager to know more and I said well we have these booklets no here’s booklet on okay here’s the booklet on child about them into in development mm-hmm so and so on well I could go on talking as you can see all day about that but there is no way to bring home the animal you’re talking about better than a film I mean it certainly did that in many ways better than having them visit you out there because that first of all you get a very small sample for that person and you very likely will disturb the animals in some way etc and very likely that you have to wait a long time to see the behaviors of interest just true I I wonder if we can skip

ahead though because strikes me that at the same time through work with the baboons through your interaction with the community of European primarily pathologists who were studying animal behavior all this was was making your name synonymous with primate behavior within anthropology even as that was happening you were launching something else and something equally new based on your relationship with the richard lee and sherry again i believe the you started to launch the the kalahari project study of the Yongsan Bushmen in Botswana and this project also broke tremendous new ground and and I I think established a new paradigm for fieldwork breaking the mold of that that one anthropologist one culture paradigm that you were mentioning before not happy you guys decided to bring a team of experts not not not a SWAT team all at once but rotating through people studying child development and demography and archaeology and all kinds of things to build up a really multi-layered multidisciplinary view how did how did this strategy well to be again it goes it goes way back in a way it’s endured blocked with sherry Washburn um when he was trying to recruit me he was dangling various things fun to me as if he needed to but I had assumed that I was going to do under gathers and he said I will go and do this baboon to job for me I’ll guarantee you that I will get you a Ford Foundation grant to go to the pygmies and it would be wonderful because they’re in the park Albert they are now being allowed to hunt so long as they hunt with natural weapons and he was a good friend of a man named Francois bully heir who is head of two institutes in Paris wonderful man who came and visited me in Nairobi park and we had a fabulous time baby anyway but then by the time I got back I you know I was on the back of a Tigers or baboon and it was hard to get all and by the time I could Richard Lee had applied to come to Berkeley where I was teaching with sherry and to work with us and he had an MA from Toronto and so on and sherry and I talked it over and decided to admit him he was quite excited about it and 12 so Richard Lee comes and he thinks in order to work with us God to Bob Welch gotta do primate perfectly reasonable assumption since everybody else working with me with doing that but he told me that his real dream was to do hunter-gatherers and I said Richard you hear it this is your lucky day that’s exactly what I want to do so let’s plan it together so he became the point man and you know but but putting things together and goading me along not yeah and it was an incredible experience and because of my own attitudes and social anthropology I had a lot to live up to but even for Richard me we’ve been told pretty much what to expect cause everybody’s hunter-gatherers and so on so they were going to be patrilineal tracing through males patra local live around the father territorial and exogamous there were none of those things the Bushmen their kinship was not strictly petulant or matrilineal it was bilateral like ours in fact there are many many aspects of the hong son that are just like american middle class nuclear family orientation but within a large group of close relatives that and that’s the part that we’ve hived off of course and small groups etc well we the other thing we had been told well we knew it was kind of a chestnut in anthropology that’s a big difference between hunter-gatherer way of life and what came later is specialization and every

male hunter in the band knows how to do all of the same things that another male does so they’re interchangeable same thing for the women you know the weaving and the food gathering well that was silly to I mean these people from the first day I mean of course I didn’t speak to language but we had a very good interpreter and from the first date was clear that these before is different as any middle-class community in Massachusetts as I ever encountered and they even had specialists not just cures which you sort of expected but even that was strange because every young man was expected to practice doing a trance dance and if possible go into a trance because in that state he could then heal people and the marginal thing is it probably a quarter of all young men did become tranches of one yoker know some great famous ones but a lot of them were serious chances which is much higher percentage than any other group I know if you have medicine men sorry Ron but there were specialists among the son of it just blew me away I sitting around the campfire at night after we’d been there a while I look up at the stars and I say so what do you make of all that well what do you want I said well a milky way well that’s the backbone of the sky okay and all those little pinpricks of light what’s that oh well those are dead men’s eyes I said that’s kind of creepy ah anyway this what anybody would tell you so this is kind of very like if you ask some young person in Cambridge you know what’s up there they wouldn’t tell you much more than that may Venus in the moon and uh something I kept pushing because I’d read a paper by the Marshall family who was a family who had been studying Bushman just across the border about cosmology and that it was rich and they finally said in exasperation well why don’t you go over to King’s band and asked Inca because he’s the one that knows all about the Stars well I’m from Missouri so to speak and I was I was very suspicious throughout most of our studies because so easy to try to every group you go to tries very hard to find out what is it you want to know what to hear right and give it to you and they’re very good at because they’ve had a lot of practice with groups that are more powerful than they and so I remain skeptical throughout most of the song study because what we really wanted to just get the facts ma’am just the facts and we didn’t want to overlay it with theory we didn’t want to bleed the witness and we kept each other on it so that wasn’t hard cuz we Richard nye both very empirically oriented so we develop methods of interviewing and so on in which you’d enter will interview a woman about important events in her life and say it’s been all day one day and half the next day then you would interview her sisters and her mother and her grandmother and go the same incident and see what their point of view was and we found the Bushmen remarkably candid and honest and so on that we also found that they had they could repress things understandably like an infant that had died in verse orb they’d had to commit infanticide with was a terrible crushing thing but their female relatives knew about it well anyway you go over Owen there was another another guy who who was the Plant expert every Bushman man or woman to name for you the 20 most common plants and 20 most common animals and that’s about it well this guy could rattle off ass I saw name for everything and I thought oh boy this guy’s really putting it on he’s going to expect a big gift but we checked it out and there was another guy who knew a lot of and they were the same words and the same went with cosmology although we didn’t have another cosmologists to check it with but at least he was consistent from the decade before mm-hmm so I’m sorry I’ve

test take too long on this but I’m just trying to say the Bushmen were so rich and we saw these poor people have not been well represented and we’re not going to be able to do that very well all by ourselves so we proposed this broad range thing of ecology and archaeology and kinship everything child-rearing medicine and so on and we also and we were able to sell it because we had this mantra almost which is you know four hundred thousand years or certainly more but at least we were hunter-gatherers and we’ve only been something else in the last 10,000 years and as late as the time of Christ to 2000 years ago half the world was still hunter-gatherers so we’re really hunter-gatherers nevermind some was where Brooks Brothers suit and we don’t know that life we and we have completely misinterpreted it and so one of the first gee whiz things we found Oh golly was that the women were on average throughout the year bringing in more calories to the camp to the men were and all the models of hunter-gatherers had been people hungry all the time while they are kind of hungry oh but you know but hunters getting game was not an everyday occurrence so you kind of staggered from one antelope to the next to stay alive it’s not that way at all first of all we found that they eat more meat than Americans it’s just that it has only a quarter of the fat and it hurt less they’re lean people chased in green an old and but the women we’re bringing in rich foods and especially non go nuts which extremely rich and very abundant out there and there takes a lot of Technology of roast Mindcrack them but they have more protein than beef steak and more fat than bacon so on you know so all by themselves they’re very good well I know you’ve got me talking about as you can see I talk about these things forever but that was why our project became so popular all that and we chose who to go out there very credible people of our local order people came out of that project yeah there now they’re members of National Academy and chairman of department anyway I’m so proud of them and we we had we set up a model a training program which was this we as you said we did not want to swamp the Bushmen destroy any other Heisenberg effect we didn’t want to destroy the very data we came out together and so we would take the idea was just one couple sorry two couples at a time and one of those would be Glee and his wife or me and my wife with her anyway then that couple would come back and we there was a seminar going on all the time on bushman so the ones who’d been to the field would then teach the ones who are preparing to go out so that engendered a lot of n group bonding and we also set up a master file and Richard nutin National Cash Register and they had a patent on pressure paper that would make carbons and we had I two crates of notebooks printed with 33 pages original and two carbons and the original went to the master file which was open to everybody that was a really big Wow yeah and then there was a carbon for the person and a carbon to do it already wanted to with and that more or less worked I mean nothing ever works perfectly but that was that was pretty close we used something very like that some years later with the Whiting’s to do curtain 66 culture study of adolescent 7 culture yeah I know those those studies should say pioneered so much not only the this multidisciplinary approach but I hadn’t realized that even sort of antedates the open access data and and file sharing as a were there was that was going on back then and and it’s

it’s not hard to appreciate why the Kunsan became such a paradigm within anthropology and there there were they were hunter-gatherers for for so many people and for so many generations because there was no no other study that came close to the richness of the detail no it’s right I don’t know of any culture outside the West as has as much fine grained data probably 30 books by now and I can’t move up with it all right and especially it’s still going on I was I was fortunate to get on the tail end of that with another project that you started with Bob Bailey finally getting it to the Ituri forest and some encounters with the pygmies were they what you expected when you when you finally got there I didn’t have the same expectations because they were not as nominally well-known after all the Bushmen had been described by Elizabeth Thomas and ton of people and so on and by little up I won’t name all the people but the irony of this was yeah I did finally make it negative pygmies but for years people would say can’t we join your caller re project and we would say well what kind of full up which was true but for heaven’s sakes this is a dry Savannah adaptation it can’t it’s silly to have this stand for all hunter-gatherers everywhere in old times just because it’s the best documented like the drunk looking for his keys where the light is and so I said why don’t you go study the pygmies I mean that’s the next biggest intact under gather population well the pygmies are still somewhat enigmatic but even their language but they their culture it makes it absolutely makes sense but we just didn’t know what to expect and what we found was that the pygmies has had always been said to be we’re always in a very close relationship with some Bantu or Sudan expedia new patrons so speak intermarrying the way I spent very little time out there but bob bailey who was the richard lee of the pygmies and his wife maybe got a PhD in our department were the key people right but we also I bet the time I remember most vividly was when we got Richard Wrangham out there for a while and his wife and they studied the less a hosts while Nadine and Bob studied the jefe pygmies and we would have seminars every night where we would hatch out how we were going to describe behavior and resting and moving and so on so that they could be compared it’s not easy and it was very exciting really because we wanted know things like amount of leisure time my contribution of male versus female or adolescent you know all that in flying green and so we would sometimes they would act these things out legit well if if a mother is squats down by the fire then hops up and goes to her baby and then comes back by the fire how do you code that well I would do so you know do we need to break that down into squats and so nah let’s don’t do that well I’m just pulling that out of here but alright they were exciting seminars yeah and Richard I idolized I think it’s one of the best people for methodology that the biology or anthropology has produced for whole animal studies and all these people are so good idea I mean that was everything I did I learned from my student I learned very early on that if you wanted wisdom it chances are you wanted to go the faculty if you want to know what’s really going on in the field

you go to the graduate students because they have so much on the line that they know they have to be up to date on the literature or and they want to be also and they’re not jaded not burnt out so I surrounded myself the graduate students in the epitome of that was something came to be called the simian seminar and Simeon seminar was actually suggested by mother graduate students I was having every chance I got I would snag a prominent biologist or anthropologist Jane Goodall or whatever to come through to come in and give it an informal talking I living room and invite the graduate students then they needed to give talks to each other and we wanted more local people so it turns out that i had a meeting like that on average twice a month in the living room and it got bigger and bigger and bigger until we were finally getting 40 and 50 squeezed into I remember the red a modest way a lot of sitting on the floor and on leech other’s laps I the three-toed slides in the whole dick but that living room and that seminar the simian seminar became the the crucible for so many ideas and so many and so during that period I think also you started working closely with robert rivers yeah I EO wilson students of your own like sarah her d and in in incorporating into anthropology into the study of human behavior some of the very exciting new Darwinian synthesis that was coming from from DW hamilton and jay maynard smith and and and GC williams and then and and you all were pulling that together into what became known for a while as sociobiology and generated quite a stir nice teen Harvard especially Harford did did weep I don’t know where are you surprised by that stir or did it did you ever worry that you that you’d poke the hornet’s nest I kind of suspected that it wouldn’t go down easily partly by my own experience I mean chippers led me in this from the beginning and now most importantly all the way through but I will never forget he called me up my we often got together for sometimes all night sessions in my house and the co me on a Thursday night he says Irv you know I’ve been wanting to tell you this I’ve just been reading such exciting stuff and here’s what it is and he can be very straight to the point and he’s clear but and he was but this stuff was so novel it blew my mind but you know my basic attitude this is the very first time I heard modern evolutionary biology as soon as we now understand it this take two aspirin and call here again Monday you know and indeed I must I’m stubborn and I think I’m careful and I I don’t embrace a belief in theory or so in the broader sense until I’m completely convinced then I hold on to it type II I don’t abandon it easily well what rivers were saying to me but so fundamental challenging that I realized very quickly within weeks that in order to embrace it fully I would have to turn my back on everything I’d understood until that point the in anthropology my thesis my professors including washroom mm-hmm and this is such a scary step to take and I was actually in the transition generation so to speak Robert hide in england and peter maher Lord Berkeley who were friends of mine were both students of Thorpe and they were now coming into their own and they were the

great Paragons of behavioral biology and they didn’t like this at all because they were going to have to change the way they looked at the world as well and they took a long time but Peter finally came around I and still used to get up and make embarrassing statements about me in meetings but I was right that it and I unfortunately I used the expression conversion experience but what I meant I didn’t mean they mystical by that but you know Saul on the road to Tarsus has a vision and he he folds down his soul he stands up he’s Paul the Apostle and that’s how what a wrench it was and but once you began to get it and you realize that this was a theory so much more powerful than anything we’ve had before that you could actually now predict things if you knew several things about a species you could make a very likely assumption probable assistant that’s going to find these things as well and not all of them but it turns out the most of the work so the world began to make sense and very curious anomalous behavior suddenly were understandable right but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for social anthropology because I think social anthropology had largely lost its way they were not foreign markets so to speak villages were more and more clothes to them and they were they were doing some basically some sociology that was quite good but they they were also doing a lot of philosophical plain language I don’t know I don’t even have to characterize it but things that led to such silly conclusions as there is no such thing as truth there’s no objective truth everything we know or believe is filtered through a culture too well of course it is but that doesn’t mean that in physics there is no such thing as truth of damn well is so so what what what is sociobiology well glad you asked the essence of it is very very simple Darwin saw very clearly as we now know the operation of natural selection on individuals and how it shaped them and niches and by and so on how they competed and thats that tells most of the story we need to know about most behavior but now that genetics is so important in our understanding we realize that behavior that is inherited in the genes is not just inherited from the grandparents and the parents down to the kids but in fact it’s the genes that are traveling down and it affects all the people who are connected to you by genes from common descent so your cousins you’re 18 related to them your nephew and niece you’re one quarter your kids one half and that whole bundle and we usually stop at about cousins because eights is about as far as anybody wants to do the mat but that so that whole bundle around ego is the inclusive fitness kin selection I used to be called and once you have that then that helps you understand even more about behaviors strange things like birds who grow up but the next spring they don’t go up and found their own nest and so on they stay with the parents and help rear them why do they do that well because it turns out that you know they share genes with their parents and with the parents kids new kid nuga and that if you do the math it makes sense for them to do that because nesting sites and so on are scarce well one of the we had a whole bunch of sterling people in the semi and seminar and one couple who I to know very very well it was leda cosmides in

John to be oh yes when John to be applied to Harvard he was out of 10 in politics at Palo Alto and I was going out there to a center a function of some sort and we had lunch and he started I started interviewing him for cv is suitable to come to Harvard because I really feel strongly not to admit anybody without an interview and I suddenly realized about 15-20 minutes into this I’m not interviewing him he’s interviewing me I thought let’s both this guy could take over and be sure that I well of course I admired it and that’s that’s those stories are told about Edmund land and the faculty at MIT he just got fed up with him and stalked off and many polaroid well we’re wise i tubing cosmides have written a whole series of very influential papers I I wrote a very early one with John but the hearts and they gave a name to what we should be thinking about is not natural selection or even kin selection clusive fitness because behavior is not inherited genes are inherited and then what’s in environments that differ the gene gets expressed so we’ve been leaving out that that middle connection and we’ve sloppily talked about genes for second such behavior being inherited well it’s not strictly speaking true dreams that will tend to make it easier for the animal to follow that pathway in some environments are what’s narrative and that makes a difference too as it turns out and that’s that’s it’s clear that it does because it’s caught on like wildfire and one of the interesting leader by the way you graduate from our every they’re married now and in psychology and John and anthropology well calling it evolutionary psychology was a brilliant stroke not only good descriptor but suddenly psychology began to feel like it was part of the enterprise and with a an open door that they could come into without losing face or anything else so the transition there is so much easier than it was in behavior since in the strict answer anthropology and if I was I tried to be a bridge between sociology and anthropology but boy they made it hard I had a lot of sympathy for them because I go back to a time when there were still very angry debates over racism and ideology and especially genetic determinism which of course is terribly ill informed but that had that had reared its head so many times excuse me generate determinism about humans over the years sometimes the dreadful results like the Holocaust that the social sciences would just spooked his hell about it and I don’t blame them because never had biology done them any favor it had done nothing because tragedy and they had nothing take from it and so they tried to turn sociobiology into yet another manifestation of the old-fashioned just more sophisticated leaflet and was not that at all right and ironically we had in dick lewington and Steve GU the two of the most outspoken critics of sociobiology and then in ed Wilson and triggers a bunch of us outstanding proponents of it and look you all actually within wings of the same building and things got a little dicey for a while but I think that I think the thing is is over and anthropology has come to the point I think we’re more and more people have embraced the fundamental principles in social organization so on of sociobiology and and seeing that it’s

it’s not a ship you know not a terrible thing it’s something that you can grow accustomed to and may even give you some insights and there’s some who don’t accept anything it will never and i say i actually have sympathy for them too well i think they’re terribly misinformed ours ed Wilson would say willfully ignorant they’re willing to remain willfully ignorant which pretty well described well nevermind fundamentalists in evolution has not go there the anthropology is going to continue grow apart I I tried to look up today how many anthropologists there are in faculties and universities now it’s in the thousands I don’t know when I first my first two or three meetings I went to and that’s apology national meetings we’re so small and intimate yes you could know by name almost everyone they’re accepting the students showing up for the first time of course and then we all had on name tags and so there was a real sense of comradery and it was a it was a feeling about anthropology mutually supportive in which there was an agreement that we do cultural anthropology which is to say we do physical anthropology archaeology social anthropology and linguistics at least those four and that had grown out of the Giants in this country like boas and kroeber and so on and so it went under the banner of cultural anthropology and they used to have a very serious debates in that apology over whether we were cultural anthropologists or social anthropologists like what come on folks what who cares as long a week but I I did come to realize several things one is that American anthropology was basically based on Salvage anthropology salvage ethnography hmm because the way of life was long gone the Indians had been herded onto reservations say so you picked the oldest people to be your informant and found a chair under shade of a tree and you SAT there tell me about the old days and of course they were only too happy to tell you about the good old days and it’s almost as bad as asking a fundamentalist to tell you about the Garden of Eden because and and it wasn’t the people trying to mislead anybody it’s just the rose e 8u of the past is hard to get past whereas the social anthropologist in England couldn’t have been a bigger contrast first of all they weren’t students they were adults second of all they were all basically minions of the State Department of british foreign office and they were studying cultures which are absolutely vital ongoing and the british had a very rambunctious empire iran and they wanted to know what is all this stuff about the Golden Stool in West Africa and Ghana and so on so so you had people who could barely hang on to the facts of social anthropology they didn’t have time for child development archaeology all those things so you had the division grow up between the two each with its own strengths and weaknesses but I think now well as as we know because you were one of the instrumental people in doing it the so-called biological anthropology split apart from the anthropology department here quite recently mm-hmm and it will have 14 faculty members when it’s fully staffed it’s got 10 of those now as I recall right you know it was a dreams apple of my eye I when I was ter I finally bit the bullet and divided the Department of three wings we call them archaeology social and biological because as long as people with such divergent interests who had almost no interests in common but just comradery and you can’t get very far on that passed a cup of coffee fought over all the resources number of graduate students could be admitted a number of junior faculty support for

graduates and so on so slightly meetings a rancorous and so I just sat down took the resources of the three and announced we now had three different wings and a title wing chairman who reported to me and I reported to the Dean and that was the first big Fisher in balcones fault zone and it’s now come about as far as just going to go for a while well if I knew where the future of anthropology was I wouldn’t be I would be on the stock market New York but I think it will survive but it will survive because it has been somewhat adroit at changing with the time when I first came to Harvard we couldn’t hire a paleoanthropologist because there were just three for fossils and there was no there were no jobs and so on the undergraduates all wonder I have a course but that was it you know and now half the physical anthropologists are working for the paleontologist we got so many fossils such a different world that’s what geezers always say but it is strange well wherever the future of anthropology lies if it flourishes and if it’s a depth at changing some of that I think can really be traced back to your influence in your career and the the pivotal changes that that you saw go on as you are shifting ground from primate behavior to hunter-gatherer studies to sociobiology to evolutionary psychology and and even though the department at Harvard may have split into two now I think the the grand vision of some really sophisticated complicated synthetic understanding of human beings as animals as very complex social beings remains very alive and vital in the field well I agree and and people are becoming more open minded I think partly the more you can separate your vital territory and feel comfortable in that and feel like it’s respected the more you can then reach out and John whiting did a lot toward teaching me that he and the interests are very close to me and I collaborated with him and several cross-cultural what he liked to call jet age anthropology with more or less good result well my father was a minister as was yours as I recall that’s correct and he always said not many souls were saved after five o’clock so I can’t have to call this one off that’s all right that’s excellent