It’s already a few months old, but still worth mentioning – I really liked the paper “Rise and fall of political complexity in island South-East Asia and the Pacific” by Thomas E. Currie and colleagues in Nature. The authors construct a phylogenetic tree based on the vocabulary of 84 Austronesian societies, and used these measures of relatedness to compare six competing models of political evolution in these societies.
I found the paper a fascinating read, anthropology of the Pacific Island region being a subject that has interested me for a long time. I have to admit that this was the first time that I saw phylogenetic methods use in that way, although that seems to be my fault, apparently Mace and Holden highlighted this application already in their 2005 paper in TREE. I wonder how reliable the estimation of such phylogenies are.