Race, sex, and human evolution: a three-part lecture series exposing biases that underlie the study of our evolutionary past

Centuries before fossils were accepted as being extinct human relatives, the conception of human history was based on a Great Chain of Being that not only identified numerous human races, but arranged them and males and females within them hierarchically, from the “lowest” to the “highest”. The discovery in 1857 of the first Neanderthal was seen as providing evolutionary evidence of a racial and sexual hierarchy. Indeed, in The Descent of Man (1871), Charles Darwin wrote at length about the evolution of “civilized” from “primitive, barbaric” humans, a notion that, in various incarnations, still informs interpretations of human evolution. This lecture series will challenge preconceived notions of race and sex from the perspective of an artist who will discuss how, with an unbiased eye, extinct humans – male and female – would have looked, an historian of science who will deconstruct the traditional concepts of “female” and “male”, and an evolutionary biologist who will bring biology into the discussion of “race”.


January 26, 8:00pm - Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Original Flesh: what did extinct humans really look like?

Ms. Elisabeth Daynés - Director and founder, Atelier Daynés, Paris


February 16, 8:00pm - Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

The descent of women: gender issues in human evolution

Claudine Cohen - Director, Biology and Society Studies École Pratique des Hautes Etúdes, Paris


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

Race and the bio-politics of human ancestry

Johathan Marks - Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina - Charlotte


** see the flyer here!