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Non-human cities

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Hi! This is Ikee. I'm piggybacking off the bulletpoint list below. I think it would be a great idea to include "non-human cities" like the colonies that animals create in their natural habitats & see if there are any parallels to the way humans have built civilizations. For example, I think that bees have a "hive scent" and kill bees that try to come into the hive without that scent. This may seem like a far-out parallel, but can we compare this to immigration policies and armed defenses in human civilizations? Similarly, certain types of bees and certain types of ants delegate each task in the hive/anthill. Could this be compared to the allocation of labor in today's economy? It would be cool to take the biological behavior of ants/bees/other animals and organisms and compare them with the economic and political characteristics of human civilizations.

Hi, this is Yeney. I think Ikee's proposal has the potential for a really engaging topic. The idea that there may be some innate structure to cities, originating in the animal kingdom and then emulated (subconsciously or otherwise) by humans is quite an observation! It might also be interesting to see how certain cultures prefer different structures to their cities and how these resemble different animal colonies or groups. For example, highly organized and stratified insect colonies (like Ikee's bees) might be compared to communitarian cultures (like China or Japan). On the other hand, a more individual-focused animal group like a pride of lions (where the command of the pride is a matter of competition between the more powerful males) parallels the way American society is structured (instead of powerful male lions, we have powerful political factions and interest groups!).

I think this is a really interesting topic and the one in which I (Emily M) would have the most to contribute. The parallels between human and animal social groups is a fascinating topic - though I would suspect that similarities are more due to similar evolutionary pressures that come with sociality rather than "emulation" in any real form (If Americans were like lions, only 1-3 males in a given community would be left alive, and infanticide rates would be through the roof!) Nevertheless, different groups of social insects have independently discovered farming (fungus gardens), herding (aphid "milking), soldier castes, slavery (kidnapping larvae of another species), antibiotics/pesticides (carrying bacteria that protect the fungus gardens) etc - which is pretty striking. Besides carnivore groups like lions or wolves, what about other primates - chimpanzees, baboons, or lemurs? What about prairie-dog towns, or meerkats? Division of labor is an issue for all strongly social species, so that is definitely something we should look at.

That reminds me of the ideas of Henry Spencer. He saw cities (actually it was society but that is close I guess) as organisms. THey grow from simplicity to complexity, just like organisms. They of course grow in size in the course of their evolution. And they grow from independance to interrelatedness, meaning that in the simple, primitive cities, idividuals are replacible and they can perform any task in the city, whereas in complex cities if one group of workers dissapears, others will suffer. (division of labour). That is just like cells that evolve into differentiated interdependant groups. Spencer went as far as to make analogies between roads and blood vessels etc. On wonders if his idea was an analogy ar an identity. In the second form its surely much more compelling :). SO CITY AS AN ORGANISM. (Forgive me any assumptions of the 19th century evolutionist theory in this paragraph). Cheers, Michal;

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