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  • Dr Sean Downey
  • Honorary Research Associate
  • s.downey@ucl.ac.uk
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Sean Downey

Sean Downey is an ecological anthropologist whose research explores the social and ecological dynamics of farming and foraging societies, past and present. His projects have spanned three sub-disciplines of anthropology including sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, and computational approaches to historical linguistics.

Since obtaining his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Arizona in 2009 he has conducted fieldwork in several Q’eqchi’ Maya villages in southern Belize, researching the socio-ecology of swidden agriculture. More recently he has been working on two projects: Investigating the Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe (EUROEVOL) with Stephen Shennan at the Institute of Archaeology, and working as co-PI with colleagues at the University of Arizona on a project to develop computational linguistic methods and to analyze the demographic history of Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

He has worked as Assistant Professor in Ecological Anthropology at the University of Maryland since 2013 and is a member of the American Anthropological Association; the Anthropology and Environment Section of the AAA; and the Society for Anthropological Sciences.

Research Interests

  • Agent-based modeling (ABM) and GIS:  specifically the analysis of the relationship between subsistence farming and social institutions, non-linear spatial modeling, phylogenetic analysis of drift processes
  • Mayan Archaeology
  • Ecological Anthropology
  • Downey, Sean S. In revision Can social network analysis clarify the resilience of Q'eqchi' Maya Swidden Agriculture in southern Belize? Ecology and Society.
  • Downey, Sean S. In revision The resilience of Q’eqchi’ shifting agriculture. In Social networks in natural resource management and governance (Örjan Bodin and Christina Prell, eds.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Lansing, J. Stephen, and S. S. Downey In press Complexity in Anthropology. In Clifford Hooker, ed., Philosophy of Complex Systems. Vol. 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science. New Holland: Elsevier.
  • Karafet, Tatiana M. Brian Hallmark, Murray P. Cox, Herawati Sudoyo, Sean S. Downey, J. Stephen Lansing, and Michael F. Hammer In press Major East-West Division Underlies Y-Chromosome Stratification Across Indonesia. Molecular Biology and Evolution.
  • Lansing, J. Stephen, M.P. Cox, Sean S. Downey, Marco Jannsen, John W. Schoenfelder 2009 A Robust Budding Model of Balinese Water Temple Networks. World Archaeology 41(1).
  • Downey, S.S. B. Hallmark, M.P. Cox, P. Norquest, and J.S. Lansing 2008 Feature-Sensitive Reconstruction of Language Relationships: Using the ALINE Distance in Historical Linguistics. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics 15(4). Also working Paper of the Santa Fe Institute #07-08-021.
  • Lansing, J.S., M.P. Cox, S.S. Downey, B. Hallmark, T.M. Karafet, P. Norquest, J. Schoenfelder, H. Sudoyo, and M. F. Hammer 2007 Coevolution of languages and genes on the island of Sumba, eastern Indonesia. PNAS 104(41):16022-16026.
  • Downey, Sean S. 2006 From Simulation Model to Critique of Structuration. Structure and Dynamics 1(2).
  • Downey, Sean S. 2005 Experimenting with “Lad Culture”: A Simulation Based on Willis’s “Learning to Labor”. Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory 2(1).

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