Lecturers & Researchers


    Chris Knight is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Comenius, Bratislava. He gained his Ph.D. from the University of London with a thesis on Claude Lévi-Strauss' four-volume Mythologiques. His first book, Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of culture (1991), outlined a new theory of human evolution. Since then, his main research interest has been in the evolutionary emergence of language. 

    In 1995, he convened a workshop in East London bringing together a small number of scholars interested in this topic. This quickly led to the first International Conference on the Evolution of Language held in Edinburgh University in 1996. Later conferences were held in East London (1998), Paris (2000), Boston (2002), Leipzig (2004), Rome (2006) and Barcelona (2008).


    Camilla Power is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of East London. She completed her Ph.D. in 2001 at UCL under supervision of Leslie Aiello. Camilla has published many articles on the evolutionary origins of ritual, gender and the use of cosmetics in African initiation. Current research interests include the origins of religion, the Neanderthal symbolic revolution, grandmothers and cooperative breeding, and Hadza women’s ritual. Teaching ranges across evolutionary anthropology, kinship and African cosmology.


    Ian Watts gained his PhD in 1998 from the University of London with a thesis on the southern African Middle Stone Age ochre record and modern human origins. In addition to his archaeological work on ochre and pigment use, Ian has published widely on African hunter-gatherer cosmology and gender ritual. He is currently completing his analysis of the ochre record at Blombos Cave, South Africa.


Ian Watts


    Jerome Lewis is a specialist on Central Africa and hunter-gatherer societies. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) with Yaka forest hunter-gatherers and to a lesser extent with neighbouring farming peoples. His research is a continuing long-term ethnographic study focused on Yaka social organisation, religion and ritual structures, child development and learning, Yaka relations with other hunter-gatherers, hunter-gatherers' relations with settled people and officials, and the impact of logging and conservation initiatives. Dr Lewis has also worked with Twa Pygmies in the Great Lakes Region, but especially in Rwanda before and after the 1994 genocide and war.


    Ifi Amadiume is Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. She did her fieldwork among the Igbo in Nigeria in Africa with a special interest in gender analysis and gained her Ph.D. at the University of London (School of Oriental & African Studies) in 1984. Her research interests include African goddesses and matriarchy; spirit possession; women's organizations; social movements; human rights and social justice; gender ideology/philosophy in indigenous religions of Africa and the African diaspora; and women in African Islam. Her publications include Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society (London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1987, 6th impression 1997); African Matriarchal Foundations: The Igbo Case (London: Karnak House, 1987); Reinventing Africa: Matriarchy, Religion and Culture (London and New Jersey: Zed Books and St. Martin's Press, 1997); Daughters of the Goddess, Daughters of Imperialsim (Zed Books 2000) and The Politics of Memory: Truth, Healing and Social Justice, co-edited with Abdullahi An Na'im (Zed Books 2000). She is also a creative writer. Her published poetry includes "Passion Waves" (London: Karnak House, 1985), "Ecstasy" (Longman Nigeria, 1995) and "Circles of Love" (NJ, USA: Frica World Press).



    Denise Arnold is Director of the Institute of Aymara Language and Culture in La Paz, Bolivia. She is also Honorary Research Professor at Birkbeck College London, and Visiting Professor at the Universidad de Tarapaca Arica (doctoral programme in Anthropology and Archaeology). She is author of The Metamorphosis of Heads and several dozen monographs and articles in English and Spanish on Andean studies. Arnold is a specialist in Andean kinship and gender relations, oral literatures, textiles and visual languages, and in social movements of the contemporary Andes.


Denise Arnold


    Margaret Clegg has a degree in Behavioural Science, a Masters and PhD in Biological Anthropology. Her own research includes work on the evolution of human growth particularly at adolescence and the evolution of speech through investigation of anatomical markers such as the hyoid bone. 
Margaret has taught and researched Biological Anthropology at UCL, UCN and the University of Southampton. She presents regularly at conferences and seminars and has a growing list of publications.
She was recently appointed Head of Human Remains Unit at the Natural History Museum. Her work includes investigating the provenance of the human remains being claimed for repatriation including researching the background to acquisition and the ethnography of the claimant group, together with an analysis of the scientific research and continuing value of these human remains not only to the scientific community but also to claimant group and the wider population.


    Jean-Louis Dessalles is Associate Professor at Telecom Paristech. His research focuses on the quest for fundamental principles underlying the language faculty and its biological origins. He is particularly interested in the study of narrative relevance, argumentative relevance and the conditions that make honest communication among selfish agents possible. He has authored several books, including Why We Talk (Oxford University Press 2007).


    Andrew Fowler is a field primatologist. He has studied chimpanzees in the Gashaka-Gumti National Park, Nigeria, under the supervision of Professor Volker Sommer (University College London). His research interests include the origins of language, chimpanzee nesting behaviour and the politics of primate conservation.

He was awarded his Ph.D. in 2006, and is currently studying bonobos in Zaire. This makes him one of a very small number of primate researchers to have been involved in studies of both chimpanzees and bonobos in the wild.


AndreW Fowler


    Kathy Garlow (left) and Mary Sandy are representatives from the Six Nations on the Grand River community in Ontario, Canada. Their primary concern is to help defend their community against colonisation and develop international links in the struggle for indigenous sovereignty. The Haudenosaunee have been living as a Confederacy of nations organised by direct consensual democracy since 1142.


Kathy Garlow & Mary Sandy


    Algis Kuliukas is currently a PhD student at University of Western Australia in Perth, studying the evolution of human bipedality. Specifically he is investigating the role that water might have played in the early adoption of facultative bipedalism in hominids in the late Miocene. This apparently rather modest idea is, in fact, loaded with controversy because it supports the so-called aquatic ape hypothesis (AAH) - a model of human evolution which suggests that water acted as an agent of selection in our evolution more than it did in the evolution of our ape cousins. Algis has published 'Wading for Food: The Driving Force of the Evolution of Bipedalism?', in Nutrition & Health 16 267-289 (2002), and has put together an enthusiastic web site, River Apes, promoting a version of the aquatic ape hypothesis which is consistent with the most widely accepted hominid fossil record and Out of Africa timescales. He has named his model the Aquatic Hybrid Ape Hypothesis (AHAH).


    Wendy James is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oxford and past President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. She has carried out research in several countries of N.E. Africa, especially the Sudan (where she also taught in the University of Khartoum) and Ethiopia. Trained in Oxford, she has pursued long-standing interests in social anthropology, its history, and its connections with neighbouring fields. Her main theoretical concerns have been with the relationship between politics and the enduring aspects of religious, cultural, and moral systems. In recent years, because of the pressing problems of conflict in Africa, she has accepted a series of consultancies with the UN and NGOs, and started to publish on themes of war and suffering.


    Dr Audax Mabulla is Field Coordinator of the Archaeology Unit, University of Dar es Salaam and one of Tanzania's leading archaeologists. His major research interest is in the area of the Lake Eyasi Basin, where the present-day Hadza hunter-gatherers live. In addition to his scholarly research, he is an active champion of the land rights of the Hadza.


Audax Mabulla


    Brian Morris is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Recent books by him include Kropotkin: Politics Of Community (2004, Humanity Press), Insects And Human Life (2004, Berg) and Religion And Anthropology (2006, CUP).


Brian Morris

    Dr. Dario Novellino received his Master in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies and his doctorate in environmental anthropology from the University of Kent where he is presently affiliated as a research fellow. Recently, he has completed a Wenner-Gren funded research on "Local Knowledge Hybridization in the Context of Conservation Development Projects". Between 2004-2005, Dr. Novellino also worked on an Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) project on anthropological methodologies and transmission of environmental knowledge, with strong emphasis on audio-visual documentation and participatory video.  His personal commitment and research interests include indigenous people's rights and advocacy, ethnobiological knowledge, natural resources management, perceptions of the environment and belief systems of small-scale societies. Since 1986, South East Asia has become the focus of his activities, and most of his anthropological research and publications have been focussing on the Batak and Pälawan of the Philippines. He is actively engaged in supporting these indigenous communities in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfil their rights.

Dario Novellino



     Estelle Orrelle has a background in history and Near Eastern Archaeology and has taken part in many prehistoric excavations in Israel. Her Ph.D. dissertation (now being completed at the University of East London) focuses on the iconography of the earliest figurines to appear after the end of the Ice Ages in the Neolithic of the Near East.


Estelle Orrelle


    Simone Pika lectures in evolutionary anthropology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Manchester. She wrote her Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, in collaboration with the Department of Ethology, University of Münster, Germany. Her research centres on the evolutionary roots of language by pinpointing similarities and differences in signal use and associated processes of cognition in humans, non-human primates, birds and elephants both in captivity and in the wild.


Simone Pika


    Kate Prendergast gained her Ph.D in Archaeology at the University of Oxford. She has published in British Archaeological Reports, Archaeopress, 3rd Stone and Science & Spirit magazine. Her research interests include explorations of prehistoric and indigenous cosmologies and the role of ritual in social continuity and change. She currently works as a Researcher in African politics.


Kate Prendergast


    Volker Sommer is Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Pro-Provost for International Strategy at UCL. Long-term research into the ecology and evolution of behaviour in monkeys and apes (India, Thailand, Nigeria). Founder and director of the "Gashaka Primate Project" (www.ucl.ac.uk). Member of the Great-Ape specialist group of the IUCN. Advisor to "Giordano-Bruno" Foundation, a German-based think-tank dedicated to the development of a secular evolutionary humanism.


    Luc Steels is a professor of computer science at the University of Brussels (VUB), director of the VUB Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and director of the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris. His scientific research interests cover the entire AI field, including natural language, vision, robot behaviour, learning, cognitive architecture and knowledge representation. His current research focuses on dialogues for humanoid robots and fundamental research into the origins of language and embodied meaning.


    Charles Whitehead was creative director of an advertising agency for twenty years before gaining his PhD in social anthropology at University College London. He teaches anthropology to cognitive science students at the University of Westminster, and is currently involved in brain imaging research on pretend play at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience. His research interests include self-consciousness, social display, and the evolution of the human brain. A central aim is to bridge the extraordinary conceptual gulfs dividing the various disciplines that attempt to understand human thought, behaviour, and consciousness.


Charles Whitehead


        After carrying out two years of field research on a 'cargo cult' in New Britain, Papua New Guinea in the late eighties, Harvey Whitehouse developed a theory of 'modes of religiosity' that has been the subject of extensive critical evaluation and testing by anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, and cognitive scientists. In recent years, he has focused his energies on the development of collaborative programmes of research on cognition and culture. He is Head of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, Head of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Director of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, CAM (www.icea.ox.ac.uk/cam/) and a Fellow of Magdalen College .


    Jason Wilcox is an English Literature graduate who went on to do an M.A. by Independent Study in Anthropology and Film at the University of East London after attending Chris Knight's "Human Revolution" evening class, where his special project was published as a pamphlet under the title "Civilization, Repression and the Modern Horror Film". Subsequently the first part of the M.A. was published in the Canadian film journal CINEACTION under the title "Cat People and its Two Worlds" (an analysis of the several versions of a Hollywood horror film which bears a distinct relationship to Knight's theory of cultural origins); there have also been other articles in CINEACTION and in the London-based SPIRIT magazine. Jason is also a practising film-maker whenever time and funds allow, and has written and directed five short films, the most recent of which was awarded the Runner-Up prize at the Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester; he is currently about to film his first horror feature, THE BOX, on digital video.


Jason Wilcox



    James Woodburn has retired from teaching anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. One of the foremost international specialists in hunter-gatherer ethnography, he has spent his life studying and championing the cultural identity and land rights of the Hadza bow-and-arrow hunters of Tanzania. He lives with his family in Cambridge, where he is an active campaigner for cyclists' rights.


james Woodburn


    Chris Stringer is Merit Researcher in Human Origins at the London Natural History Museum. His early research concentrated on the relationship of Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe, but his current research interests extend as far back as Homo habilis and as far geographically as China and Australia. He has been closely involved in the development of the Out of Africa theory of modern human origins and now collaborates with a number of archaeologists, dating specialists and geneticists in attempting to reconstruct the evolution of modern humans. He has have also directed or co-directed excavations at Pleistocene sites in England, Wales and Gibraltar, and is currently directing the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB), funded by the the Leverhulme Trust. AHOB is a 5-year project to reconstruct the pattern of the earliest human colonisation of England and Wales.


    Fabio Silva has a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Portsmouth and an MA in Cultural Astronomy at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He has shifted his interests into Anthropology and Archaeology since coming across Lionel Sims’ work on decoding Stonehenge and Avebury. He has been studying Iberian megaliths and other aspects of astronomy in cultures both past and present. He is a tutor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and an Archaeology PhD candidate at University College London.


Fabio SIlva


    Ana Lopes gained her first degree in Anthropology at the University of East London. She completed a Masters degree at UCL, and a Ph.D at UEL on action research in the sex industry. She was one of the founders of the International Union of Sex Workers. She is currently teaching anthropology at UEL.


Ana Lopes


    Morna Finnegan gained her first degree in Women Studies at University of East London. She went on to pursue a Ph.D in Social Anthropology at Edinburgh University, completing her thesis on women’s political position among egalitarian hunter-gatherers in Central Africa in 2009.


Morna Finnegan



    João Zilhão is professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at the University of Bristol, Dept of Archaeology and Anthropology. In 1998, he directed the salvage excavation of the Early Upper Paleolithic child burial of Lagar Velho (Portugal) and, in 2004-2005, the archaeological excavations at the Peştera cu Oase (Romania), site of Europe’s earliest modern humans. Ongoing projects include the Middle Palaeolithic sequence of Cueva Antón (Spain).


joão Zilhão


    David Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist has been involved in social and political activism, including the protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002 and Occupy Wall Street. He accepted a professorship at the London School of Economics in 2013. In November 2011, Rolling Stone magazine credited Graeber with giving the Occupy Wall Street movement its theme: "We are the 99 percent". Comparing it to the Arab Spring, Graeber has claimed that Occupy Wall Street and other contemporary grassroots protests represent "the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire."

    David is the author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology and Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. He has done extensive anthropological work in Madagascar, writing his doctoral thesis  on the continuing social division between the descendants of nobles and the descendants of former slaves. (Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar)  Other books include: Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire, Direct Action: An Ethnography and Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations//Collective Theorization. His major historical monograph is Debt: The First 5000 Years. He is also working on an historical work on the origins of social inequality with the archeologist David Wengrow.


David Graeber


    Noel Lobley is an ethnomusicologist and musician who has worked extensively on African music and archives, especially Xhosa communities in Grahamstown, South Africa, and the Bayaka of Central African Republic.


Noel Lobley


    Richard Seaford is a professor of the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. His work on Athenian tragedy and religion has led him to investigate the historical conditions for the radical development of Greek culture in the sixth century BC (sometimes called the origin of European culture), and to argue that a crucial factor in this development was money: the advanced Greek polis of this period was the first society in history that we know to have been thoroughly monetised. Money and the Early Greek Mind. Homer, Tragedy, Philosophy (2004) explores the socio-historical conditions that made this first monetisation possible as well as its profound cultural consequences, notably the invention of 'philosophy' and of drama. His other books include Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-state (1994) and Dionysos (2006).


Richard Seaford