2012

Ecological elimination as a major evolutionary force

Populations fluctuate but seem generally stable in the long run. Species evolve slowly, or even seem to be more or less in “stasis” for much of their existence. Multispecies communities are recognizable over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. The hypothesis is that much of the structure and stability seen at the macro … [Read more]

Wine, Temperance and South African Connectivity c.1900 to the Present

Although wine is often conceived of within bounded national histories, it is a commodity that is best understood within a global framework – especially since the transformations necessitated by the spread of phylloxera in the later nineteenth century. This project, which aims to transcend South African exceptionalism, focuses on three levels of connectivity between South … [Read more]

Ecological and non-ecological speciation mechanisms

During the past decade, there has been a lot of interest among evolutionary biologists in ecological niche-based) speciation processes, under the scientific umbrella of “The ecological theory of adaptive radiations”. This view is increasingly challenged by new data and new organismal model systems, and the aim of this project is to develop these non-ecological alternatives … [Read more]

Private lands conservation in law and culture

Many ecological conservation goals require the use of legal means to channel land development and otherwise curtail unsound uses of privately owned lands. Significant limits on private land use, however, often clash with cultural ideas about private property and liberty. Are the core elements of private ownership largely static or do they legitimately evolve, and is property … [Read more]

Human skin pigmentation: Further studies of its evolution, biological consequences, and social meaning

Recent research on the topic explored the effects of skin pigmentation on human health and social well-being, and upcoming projects will focus on these aims. The first project is biomedical and will involve study of the relationship between skin pigmentation, sun (UVB) exposure, vitamin D levels, and the progression of infectious diseases. The second project is biosocial … [Read more]

Islands of Work at the Rough Edge of the World; and: Archiving Culture and Nature: Harlan I. Smith’s Ethnographic Record of the Pacific Slope

Two book-length studies will be completed. The first is a capstone historical-geographical-intellectual study of the workings and impact of the Pacific Coast salmon-canning industry of the late 19th century through to the present: Islands of Work at the Rough Edge of the World. The second book is Archiving Culture and Nature: Harlan I. Smith’s Ethnographic … [Read more]

Assessing current use and future potential of legumes and symbiotic nitrogen fixation in Africa

The Agricultural Green Revolution of the 20th century, which resulted from plant breeding and increased fertilizer use, led to food sufficiency and security in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, the cost of nitrogenous fertilizers excluded the poorest farmers from reaping the benefits of the Green Revolution.  Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) in legumes provides a … [Read more]

Beyond Extraversion: Ways towards Intellectual Self-reliance

Most publications by philosophers, scientists and other scholars from Africa and the Third World have so far been intended for an external audience and particularly a Western audience. This intellectual and cultural extraversion is only a consequence of economic extraversion, i.e. the subordination of the whole production process to an external demand. The question therefore … [Read more]

Tightening the Consistency of Quantum Bayesianism

Quantum Bayesianism is an effort to interpret all the probabilities arising in quantum theory (our most accurate physical theory to date, the one ultimately responsible for almost all of modern technology) in terms of the Bayesian conception of probability – that probabilities quantify subjective degrees of belief, rather than objective features of nature.  This way … [Read more]

J.M. Coetzee: A Critical Biography

The Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee is currently South Africa’s most resourceful and influential writer. While his roots lie in the Western Cape and Karoo in particular, his intellectual reach embraces Western and Central Europe and much of the United States. His fiction and nonfiction are read and studied throughout the world, from Rio to Beijing, … [Read more]