UC Davis Professor emerita of Anthropology Sarah Blaffer Hrdy has been awarded the J. I. Staley Prize from the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe for her book, Mothers and Others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding (Harvard University Press, 2009). The Staley Prize, which includes a cash award of $10,000, is awarded to a living author for a book that exemplifies outstanding, innovative scholarship and writing in anthropology, especially books that cross disciplinary boundaries.
In the book, Hrdy examines the emergence of a type of childrearing called “cooperative breeding” in the line of apes leading to modern humans. She proposes that long ago, before the appearance of language or large brains, our ancestors became interested in the thoughts and feelings of others.
Describing the book as “sophisticated and provocative,” the Staley Prize citation says that, “The book casts new light on contemporary understandings of parenting, family, and community and challenges us to question assumptions about the primacy of the Western nuclear family.”
Mothers and Others was also recently awarded the W. W. Howells Book Prize by the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association at their annual meeting in San Francisco. This is the first time that the same author has won the Howells Prize a second time, as her earlier book, Mother Nature: Maternal instincts and how they shape the human species, also won the Howells Prize in 2000.