Invited Seminar Talk

Multi-level Evolutionary Simulation for Anthropology and Demography

Kenji Itao
Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography, May 17, 2022

Kenji Itao from the University of Tokyo dealt with two topics in his talk: the evolution of kinship structures in clan societies and the relationships between family systems and social structures in preindustrial agricultural societies.


Societies all over the world are strikingly diverse. However, one can find the similarity in the societies far away from each other and thus, their diversity is patterned. As long as we consider societies composed as human groups, we can expect some general form of interaction between individuals. If this is the case, it is worth considering how the quantitative difference in microscopic human behavior results in different macroscopic structures. In this talk, I deal with two topics. One is the evolution of kinship structures in clan societies. The other is the relationships between family systems and social structures in preindustrial agricultural societies. For both, by referring to the ethnographic reports, we built the model of family interactions therein. We consider the multi-level evolution at two levels: i.e., that of families (the agent of the model) and societies (the group of families). Evolutionary simulation demonstrates the diversification of family behaviours and the emergence of characteristic social structures that anthropologists and demographers have observed. Then, by examining the parameter dependence of the emergent structures, we provide a phase diagram to explain their environmental dependencies. Finally, we test the theoretical results by statistical analysis of the cross-cultural database. The study on kinship structure is based on, and that on family systems is based on. 


Kenji Itao is a Ph.D student at Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo. He received a BS and MS degree in Basic sciences from the University of Tokyo. He applies the method of statistical physics and evolutionary biology to build the abstract model for anthropological phenomena. His research interests are in the emergence of society-level structures from family-level interactions. His research project has focused on kinship structures, family systems and social hierarchies.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.