Our Research

The Evolution of Cultural Diversity Initiative (ECDI) brings together expertise in each of the disciplines

to tackle a number of key questions:

  • What are the key drivers that account for cultural evolution from the deep past through to the present?
  • What are the processes producing diversity (genetic, linguistic and cultural) and what influence do environmental contexts exert on these processes?
  • How do innovations arise and diffuse in complex social networks?
  • What new transdisciplinary methodologies and approaches should be developed to support these aims?

To explore these questions, ECDI will focus research attention and collaboration on four particular centres of diversity within Oceania – eastern Indonesia, northern Australia, New Guinea and Island Melanesia – as zones in which the ANU has had a long history of engagement.

Within these four zones, our research is further narrowed to address five cross-cutting research themes (Transdisciplinarity, Ontogeny, Culture and Socialisation, Consilience and Cartography, Narrative, Detecting Remote Historical Signal), as these have played out in five specific research areas defined in time and space (Colonising Sahul, Holocene Revolutions, Local Diversification, Transitions, Island Melanesia after Lapita).

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