A three-part lecture series that exposes biases that underlie the study of our evolutionary past. All lectures are free and open to the public.
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 perspectives 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”.