Jonathan Marks 02 Mar 2015



Race, Sex, and Human Evolution

A three-part lecture series exposing biases that underlie the study of our evolutionary past

Professor Jonathan Marks Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Race and the bio-politics of human ancestry

March 2, 8:00pm - Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

A narrative that explains who we are and how we got this way is generally known as an origin myth, and human variation are publicly contested (by creationists and racists, respectively) is that these scientific narratives have cultural valence that transcends their status as scientific knowledge. I will argue that when the first generation of Darwinians connected Europeans to apes through non-European races in order to counter the absence (in the 1860s) of a fissile record linking humans to apes, they incurred a debt that evolutionary biologists will forever continue to repay. From the beginning, then, one crucial aspect of any narrative of human evolution is the relationship between human diversity and human evolution. This distinction in turn hinges critically on identifying species in the human fossil record – this, itself, a bio-cultural endeavor. Present-day human populations today are genetically connected in complex ways, and it is likely that they were connected in the distant past as well. This implies that the relationships among human populations tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago are being poorly served by the metaphor of a branching evolutionary tree.

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Location Information

Location: Frick Fine Arts Auditorium