Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
Phone: +49 341 3550314
E-mail: han_tran@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
My doctoral research, under the supervision of Bret A. Beheim, Timothy Waring and Richard McElreath, focuses on processes of social information transmission and learning that underlie material culture repertoire and evolution. Material culture has been studied on macroevolutionary level in a lot of detail focusing primarily on reconstructing artifact lineages and assemblages. However, microevolutionary processes underlying material culture are of importance to understand the decision processes or strategies that led to human adaptation.
I am interested in stylistic variations in material culture because they can be reflective of learning mechanisms and transmission processes. Specifically, I am interested in stylistic variations in a two-dimensional hand-drawn artistic tradition called kolam, which is practiced among the Tamils in South India. Kolams are composed of an initial dot matrix; lines are sequentially drawn around the dots to form loops. These loop patterns can be mapped onto a small identifiable set of gestures which is suitable for analyses. Using this case study, I develop statistical and individual-based models to understand the distribution of different styles, their modes of transmission and what kind of style individuals choose to copy, adapt or invent anew.