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Benjamin Hanowell

University of Washington

CSU Sacramento

I draw on evolutionary and social science theories to examine how social inequality emerges and maintains.  I am particularly interested in the cultural and evolutionary ecology of colonial and post-colonial social systems.  For a closer look visit my webpage here, or:

How does large-scale inequity affect the reproductive strategies and kinship dynamics of the poor and under-priviledged?  How do individuals negotiate reproductive opportunities in an increasingly inter-connected global market?  Aside from elite threat of force and marginalized lack of control, what drives the acceptance of socioeconomic and reproductive inequality at the societal and household levels?   How could institutionalized inequality arise without the use of coercion and from a social system that was presumably egalitarian?  I hope to address these and other questions by drawing parallels between human and non-human theoretical and empirical work.  As an IPEM fellow, I am training to develop analytical and computational models of these processes.   My collaboration with IPEM fellow Megan van Wolkenten modeling dispersal decision-making processes is an important step in this direction.  Meanwhile, I have recapitulated and will expand upon the work of my advisor, Eric Alden Smith, and Kyungpook National University economist Jung Kyoo-Choi.  They developed a simple, agent-based simulation of how social inequality could emerge and become evolutionarily stable as a result of economic ties between wealthy patrons and laboring clients. My long term goals are to develop a comprehensive ecological theory of colonialism, and to find avenues for applying findings from human behavioral ecology and evolutionary ecology writ large to real world problems.