We welcome Alejandro back to the KLI as a postdoc fellow.
You can follow his project here on "Social Affordances in the Transmission and Evolution of Music: A Theoretical Evo-Devo Approach."
Abstract: It has been argued that cultural evolution and genetic inheritance are driven by similar rules. However, such accounts of evolution misperceive an important set of disanalogies between the structure of genetic inheritance and the structure of complex processes of cultural transmission. Furthermore, these models usually left unattended the important role that the development of human organisms play in the production and transmission of cultural traits. Unlike a purely gene-centered approach, Evo-Devo research agenda has focused on two key problems about evolution: how do evolutionary mechanisms generate and modify organismal developmental processes, and how does the structure of developmental processes shape back the patterns and processes of evolution. This implies that to understand either evolutionary or developmental processes, we need to understand how they shape one another. Music is a particularly rich cultural expression in which these interrelational processes can be explored.
The process through wich individuals acquire a repertoire of muscial skills is a multifactorial one (taking place during the personal development of individuals within a social group), and this is possible because social environments afford the maintenance of standing musical practices. The study of the reciprocal interrelation between the acquisition of musical skills and the maintenance and evolution of a musical tradition over time has not been explored yet. I suggest that the notion of social affordances – understood as a set of possibilities for social interaction provided by a sociomaterial environment – would shed valuable light on the way that these interrelational processes function. Thus, the integration of this concept into an Evo-Devo account of music would bridge this research gap, which constitutes the main theoretical contribution of this project.