Brave new worlds: Trophallaxis and the origin of society in the early twentieth century

Sleigh, Charlotte (2002) Brave new worlds: Trophallaxis and the origin of society in the early twentieth century. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 38 (2). pp. 133-156. ISSN 0022-5061. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Trophallaxis, the process of feeding by mutual regurgitation amongst insects, was named by the North American entomologist William Morton Wheeler in 1918. I argue that entomologists, both before and after 1918, saw mutual feeding as an integral part of the behavioral whole of the nest, and moreover related its explanatory power to theories about human society. In particular, feeding behavior was seen as the key to the riddle of the origin of sociality. I show how entomologists' precise interpretations of trophallaxis varied and explore the increasingly functional, sociological, and economic constructions of the phenomenon that they developed - without breaking with earlier tradition - into the early 1930s. The article ends by demonstrating how Aldous Huxley's bleak vision of humanity in the novel Brave New World, and its ambiguous prescription for meaningful life amidst the trappings of modernity, has much in common with metaphors generated by those studying ants.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: L.J. Brown
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:35
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 08:42
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