Professor Fiona M Jordan

BA(Auck.), BSc Hons (Auck.), PhD(Lond.)

  • BS8 1UU


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am an evolutionary and linguistic anthropologist who studies cultural evolution. Like most anthropologists, I want to understand cultural diversity. There are two parts to that inquiry: Why do humans–a single species–have so much variation in behaviour and culture? But: Why don’t human societies vary more? My work seeks to do cross-cultural research in new and innovative ways by combining methods, data, and theory from biology, psychology, anthropology, and linguistics. My core subfield is cultural phylogenetics: understanding cultural diversity using the same statistical tools that biologists use to investigate evolutionary and diversity processes in other species. I am particularly interested in kinship and language, and my primary region of interest is the Austronesian-speaking world. My published work has ranged widely: demonstrating the use of phylogenetic techniques to study Pacific prehistory and language dispersal; biocultural adaptation in the human sex ratio; cultural transmission of craft techniques; inferring past aspects of kinship and family structures; the evolution of semantic systems conceptualising colours and body parts; and modelling land tenure evolution. I also have broad interests in a number of evolutionary approaches to human behaviour, as well as the intersections of language, culture, and society.

External positions

Research Associate, Human Relations Area Files, Yale

1 Sep 2020 → …

Secretary, Cultural Evolution Society

1 Aug 2016 → …

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Starting Grant VARIKIN

Mitchell, A., Passmore, S., Racz, P. M., Sheard, C. & Jordan, F. M.


Project: Research

"Together": Designing an inclusive picture book to explore children's concepts of family

Mitchell, A., Jordan, F. M. & Paterson-Achenbach, B.


Project: Research

Research Output

CHIELD: The causal hypotheses in Evolutionary Linguistics Database

Roberts, S. G., Sheard, C., Opie, C., Passmore, S., Jordan, F. & al., E., 16 Apr 2020, In : Journal of Language Evolution. 5, 2, p. 101-120

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

  • Editors' Review and Introduction: The Cultural Evolution of Cognition

    Beller, S., Bender, A. & Jordan, F., 29 Apr 2020, In : Topics in Cognitive Science. 12, 2, p. 644-653 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    24 Downloads (Pure)

    No universals in the cultural evolution of kinship systems

    Passmore, S. & Jordan, F., 3 Aug 2020, In : Evolutionary Human Sciences.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • Activities

    • 2 Editorial activity

    Journal of Language Evolution (Journal)

    Fiona M Jordan (Editor)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

    PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Fiona M Jordan (Editor)

    2013 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity