Michelle Claire Langley
Grant TypeWorkshop Grant
Institutional AffiliationGriffith U.
Grant numberGr. CONF-802
Approve DateApril 4, 2019
Project TitleLangley, Michelle (Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University) "Children and Innovation: Developing Frameworks for Recognising and Understanding the Role of Children in the Deep Past"
Determining ‘what makes us human’ is arguably the most important question investigated by archaeology. Traditionally examined through the study of human remains and discarded tools, a new avenue of research has emerged: the role of children in technological and cultural innovation. Indeed, it is becoming evident that the study of children in the deep past (that is, back to the beginning of the genus Homo some 300,000-years-ago at least) may lead to incredible insights into the development of modern human cognition and behavioural patterns. Similarly, it has recently been suggested that children may, in fact, be one of the primary drivers of technological and cultural innovation — ultimately pushing humankind towards increasingly complex languages and technologies. This 5-day workshop will bring together leading researchers from archaeology, anthropology, primatology, and psychology to discuss the following questions: How do we understand the role of children in different hominin groups throughout human evolution?; Could children be a primary driver for dynamic changes in technology in prehistory — particularly over the past 300,000 years? Can we confidently recognize their signatures?; How can we use data on recent children – ethnographic or psychological – to learn about those from earliest prehistory as well as later periods?; Finally, can we formulate novel, coherent and synthetic research designs that take this field of investigation forward?