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Dr Camilla Power

Senior Lecturer

I am a social anthropologist interested in the evolutionary emergence of human culture. I combine interdisciplinary perspectives of Darwinian and behavioural ecology modelling with primatology, archaeology, and hunter-gatherer ethnography. My fieldwork has been with Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania researching gender ritual. 



    Humans are the symbolic species. My research encompasses models which can account for the origins of symbolism including language, art, religion, gender and kinship. Among my main areas of research are African hunter-gatherer cosmology, ritual and gender relations; comparison of the symbolic archaeological record of modern humans and neanderthals; Darwinian modelling for the evolution of language and ritual; rock art, life history and cooperative childcare

    Power, C, V. Sommer and I Watts (in press)
    Female reproductive synchrony and male behaviour: from monkeys to Neanderthals and modern humans. PaleoAnthropology
    Knight, C. and C. Power (2012). Social conditions for the emergence of language. In M. Tallerman and K.Gibson (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Power, C. and C Knight 2012. Arrest for attempted street theatre. Anthropology Today 28, 24-26.
    Power, C. 2011. Lunarchy in the Kingdom of England. Radical Anthropology 5, 18-26.
    Power, C. 2010. Cosmetics, identity and consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17, 73-94
    Power, C. 2009. Sexual selection models for the emergence of symbolic communication: Why they should be reversed. In R. Botha and C. Knight (eds) The Cradle of Language. Oxford: Oxford University press, pp.257-280.


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    Opie, K. and C. Power 2008. Grandmothering and female coalitions: A basis for matrilineal priority? In N. J. Allen, H. Callan, R. Dunbar and W. James (eds) Early Human Kinship: From sex to social reproduction. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwells, pp. 168-186.

    Knight, C. and C. Power 2005. Grandmothers, politics, and getting back to science. In E. Voland, A. Chasiotis and W. Schienfenhövel (eds.), Grandmotherhood: The evolutionary significance of the second half of female life. New Brunswick: Rutgers, pp. 81-98.

    Power, C. 2004. Women in prehistoric art. In G. Berghaus (ed.) New Perspectives on Prehistoric Art. Praeger: Westport, CT/London, pp. 75-103.

    Power, C. 2000. Secret language use at female initiation: bounding gossiping communities. In C. Knight, M. Studdert-Kennedy and J. R. Hurford (eds) The Evolutionary Emergence of Language. Social function and the origins of linguistic form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.81-98.

    Power, C. and I. Watts 1999 First gender, wrong sex. In H. Moore, T. Sanders and B. Kaare (eds) Those who play with fire. Gender, fertility and transformation in East and Southern Africa. London: Athlone Press, pp.101-132.

    Power, C. 1998. Old Wives Tales. The gossip hypothesis and the reliability of cheap signals. In Approaches to the Evolution of Language: Social and Cognitive Bases (eds.) J. Hurford, C. Knight and M. Studdert-Kennedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 111-129.

    Power, C. and I. Watts 1997. The Woman with the Zebra’s Penis. Gender, mutability and performance. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N. S.) 3, 537-560. Knight, C., C. Power and I. Watts 1995. The human symbolic revolution: a Darwinian account. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 5, 75-114.



    Darwinian models of the evolution of culture with special focus on African hunter-gatherer cosmology and gender ritual; evolution of language, art and ritual in modern humans; Neanderthal symbolic behaviour; beauty; sexual selection; cosmetics; red ochre; pigments; initiation; early human kinship



    AI1112 Introduction to the Origins of Culture
    AI1121 Politics of Sex and Kinship
    AI2142 Origins of Culture
    AI2147 African Cosmology
    AI3151 Biological Anthropology
    AI3152 Cognitive and Linguistic Anthropology
    AI3165 Human Sociobiology
    BSc Anthropology
    Member of the Association of Social Anthropologists.
    Editor of Radical Anthropology