Francisco Gil-White

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Francisco Gil-White (born July 1969) is a sociocultural anthropologist who teaches Organizational Behavior, Knowledge Management, and the Political History of the West and Antisemitism at ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), in Mexico City. He also teaches Systems and Evolutionary Thinking at Universidad del Medio Ambiente.

He was Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2006 and lecturer at the Solomon Asch Centre for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict. He was born in Chicago and raised in Mexico City. His father is Francisco Gil Díaz, Secretary of Finance and Public Credit in the cabinet of Vicente Fox. He holds a master's degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Biological and Cultural Anthropology from UCLA.


While doing doctoral work at UCLA, Gil-White and colleague Joseph Henrich developed and later published a theory to explain the evolutionary origins of prestige in human societies[1]. Unlike chimpanzees, which form linear dominance hierarchies based on agonism, human groups naturally assemble into more egalitarian social arrangements where status is determined by relative prestige. Henrich and Gil-White's theory explains how prestige based social arrangements operate in hunter gatherer communities, and how natural selection created cognitive biases that enable high-fidelity social transmission between prestigious mentors and their clients. The theory has garnered considerable attention in evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology literatures.

Political activism[edit]

Gil-White was fired from the University of Pennsylvania.[2] Gil-White claims that this was a politically motivated dismissal, a consequence of his activism on topics such as his repudiation of the conventional version of the 1990s civil wars in Yugoslavia[3] and his claim that the Palestine Liberation Organisation traces its roots to Adolf Hitler's World War II Final Solution.[4] Gil-White has made public documents relevant to his dispute with the University of Pennsylvania,.[5][6] As a consequence of the protest registered by UPenn students in the context of his dismissal, on February 17, 2005, Gil-White appeared on Hannity and Colmes (Fox News Channel) in a segment on "how far academic freedom should go."


  1. ^ Henrich, J.; Gil-White, F. J. (2001). "The evolution of prestige: Freely conferred status as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission.". Evolution and human behavior. 22: 165–196. 
  2. ^ "HOMEPAGE - Francisco Gil-White - HOMEPAGE". 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  3. ^ "Articles on the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia". Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Understanding the Palestinian Movement". Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Gil-White's position on dispute with University of Pennsylvania". February 11, 2005. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ "On the importance of Israel National Radio (Arutz Sheva)". Retrieved May 9, 2011. 

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