Photo by Alex Webb/Magnum
Photo by Alex Webb/Magnum

Friends, foes and family

Can evolution solve the puzzle of being human?

Humans are unusual animals. We have long childhoods, we live well beyond our reproductive years and we’re a dazzling mix of selfishness and altruism. You might think we have escaped biology altogether with our incredible diversity of ways of life. But Ruth Mace, distinguished anthropologist and behavioural ecologist, believes that evolutionary theory is the key to unravelling the mysteries of why we live, love, parent, compete and cooperate the way we do. Join us for a spirited conversation with Ruth, and poetic insights into these questions from acclaimed singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney.

Reading resources

Ruth Mace


Headshot of Ruth Mace

Ruth Mace is professor of evolutionary anthropology at University College London. She works at the intersection of ecology, demography, evolutionary theory and anthropology. She is principally interested in examining some of the central puzzles about human behaviour and cultural evolution, including the shape of modern families, kinship, cooperation and conflict. She was one of the early proponents of the grandmother hypothesis, a theory that accounts for the puzzle of why humans have such a long post-reproductive lifespan. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Evolutionary Human Sciences and from 2005 to 2010 she was also editor-in-chief of Evolution and Human Behavior. In 2008, Ruth was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences.

Ruth can be found on Twitter at @tavitonst

Olivia Chaney


Headshot of Olivia Chaney

Photo by Rich Gilligan

Olivia Chaney is an English folk singer and multi-instrumentalist born in Florence. Inspired by an eclectic mix of early influences from Prince to Henry Purcell, Olivia nurtured her passion for songwriting at Chetham’s School of Music and The Royal Academy of Music. After performing at SXSW and a stint as lead singer for electronica outfit Zero 7, Olivia signed with Nonesuch Records, leading to collaborations with Kronos Quartet on Folk Songs (2017) and The Decemberists on Grammy-nominated album The Queen of Hearts (2017). Olivia’s acclaimed solo albums, The Longest River (2015) and Shelter (2018), showcase her unmistakable brand of luscious and sophisticated music that explores inherited trauma, the clash of tradition and modernity, and the paradoxes of falling in love. Olivia’s much anticipated third studio album, Circus of Desire, will be released in March 2024.

Olivia can be found on Instagram at @oliviachaneymusic, Twitter at @oliviachaney and Facebook at @OliviaChaneyMusic

Sally Davies


Sally Davies is a writer and executive editor of Aeon+Psyche, with eclectic interests that span philosophy, science, feminism and culture. Prior to joining Aeon she helped to launch Nautilus magazine, worked as a correspondent and editor at The Financial Times, and started the Libreria bookshop in East London. She is also the co-founder of the interactive storytelling startup Beyond these activities, she is an ardent believer in the power of performance to connect the felt and thought dimensions of human experience.

Event and ticketing details

Date and time

Thursday, 11 April 2024

7:30pm ‘til 9:30pm


Full price – £15

Concession – £5


Hoxton Hall,

130 Hoxton St, London N1 6SH

  • Doors open: 6:30pm
  • Performance starts: 7:30pm sharp
  • The show will run for approximately 110 minutes, including a brief interval
  • Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase throughout the evening from the bar
  • Please note that seating is a mixture of cabaret- and theatre-style and is unallocated. For those seated at tables, we warmly encourage you to share any spare seats with your fellow Sophia Club attendees
  • Access your ticket for the event by clicking View order or Download PDF at the bottom of your ticket email
  • Hoxton Hall is fully wheelchair accessible on the ground floor with a lift servicing all floors. For more information on accessibility, click here
This is a past event
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Hoxton Hall,
130 Hoxton St, London N1 6SH

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