Journal Reviews of Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship

Reviews of my book Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship continue to appear in a range of academic journals. Here are some recent examples (with links to the originals);


An excellent piece of scholarship. The author’s synthesis, integration and critical analysis of such a broad body of biological and anthropological literature are impressive and executed with careful balance… the book is a real pleasure to read…

As someone who teaches behavioural ecology to biologists, and primate biology to social and biological anthropologists, I will be strongly recommending this book to all of my advanced undergraduates, masters and PhD students, as well as to my colleagues. Not only does it help to resolve debates that have run for many years, but it is also an outstanding example of what can be achieved by immersing oneself in literature from different fields, while retaining an intellectual openness and exercising incisive analysis. Many of us talk enthusiastically about inter- and multi-disciplinarity, but often this is not much more than lip service. This book is a shining example of what can be achieved when excellent scholars engage fully across disciplinary boundaries. There should be more texts like this.

Stuart Semple, Acta Ethologica


This book is, in my opinion, a convincing, solid and informed blow to the residual genetic determinism that still influences the interpretation of social behaviour.

This is a book that is worth reading many times. Colleagues interested in the evolution of social behaviour will dive into it; others, like me, who are less used to extremely detailed theoretical reasoning, will find it difficult at the beginning but then extremely rewarding. It is a landmark in the field of evolutionary biology, which places genetic determinism in the correct perspective.

Augusto Vitale, Folia Primatologica  (Open Access to Full Text)


His synthesis is lucid and effective… Holland argues convincingly that many investigations into the evolution of social behaviour have overly fixated on genetic relatedness, while erroneously overlooking the ‘‘reliable context of interaction’’ as a powerful mediating force in the expression of social behavior.

In sum, Holland has produced a significant work of scholarship that will be of interest to a wide swath of the anthropological community.

Nicholas Malone, Critique of Anthropology


Holland has done an excellent and thorough job in reviewing the disciplinary and interdisciplinary histories of approaches to kinship and social bonds in anthropology, biology, and psychology. Most importantly, he clarifies the different levels of analysis when looking at human behavior in real time and in the evolutionary time frame. This makes the book essential reading for anyone who acknowledges that human relatedness and social bonds are shaped by the evolved dispositions of our species, their development through the life-course of an individual, and our specific cultural-historical environments.

It is only with a clear understanding of the theoretical premises of contemporary evolutionary approaches—and their relevance to questions of real-time social and cultural processes that are the usual subjects of anthropological inquiry—that anthropologists can begin to contribute more to the interdisciplinary study of comparative human development. Our contribution is vital, not only to point to the diversity and complexity of human relationships, but also to critically engage with the concepts used to define them. Holland’s book goes a long way toward clarifying and therefore advancing these theoretical debates.

Anni Kajanus, Social Analysis


A tremendously useful resource for students of kinship in anthropology, psychology and biology who are interested in looking beyond the confines of their own discipline… highly relevant for anyone interested in this exciting field.

Katharina Schneider, Social Anthropology


A hugely thought provoking book, especially helpful for those in psychology who want to broaden their understanding of the factors that may mediate social bonding outside the psychological realm. It provides a diverse integration of many disciplines, socio-biology, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and ecology.

Elizabeth Simmonds, Developmental Psychology Forum



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