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Join The Explorers Club and Professor Jennifer Raff as she tells the story of who the first peoples in the Americas were, how and why they made the crossing, how they dispersed south, and how they lived based on a new and powerful kind of evidence: their complete genomes. ORIGIN provides an overview of these new histories throughout North and South America, and a glimpse into how the tools of genetics reveal details about human history and evolution.
20,000 years ago, people crossed a great land bridge from Siberia into Western Alaska and then dispersed southward into what is now called the Americas. Until we venture out to other worlds, this remains the last time our species has populated an entirely new place, and this event has been a subject of deep fascination and controversy. No written records—and scant archaeological evidence—exist to tell us what happened or how it took place. Many different models have been proposed to explain how the Americas were peopled and what happened in the thousands of years that followed.
A study of both past and present, this lecture will explore how genetics is currently being used to construct narratives that profoundly impact Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It serves as a primer for anyone interested in how genetics has become entangled with identity in the way that society addresses the question “Who is indigenous?”
Streaming live here on explorers.org, our YouTube Channel, and our Facebook Live — Monday, March 21st at 7:00 pm ET.
Jennifer Raff is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas with a dual Ph.D. in anthropology and genetics and over fourteen years of experience in researching ancient and modern human DNA from the Americas. In addition to her research, she has been writing on issues of scientific literacy and anthropological research at her own website, Violent Metaphors, and for The Guardian, Scientific America, HuffPost, Forbes, and the Evolution Institute blog for several years.
Deana Weibel is a professor of anthropology at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and also teaches in GVSU’s Religious Studies program. Her exploration of sacred sites, sacred objects, and people’s experiences of them has taken her to a variety of pilgrimage centers from Chimayó in New Mexico to Lourdes in France and Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Her most recent work has focused on the idea of outer space as sacred space and the religious lives and motivations of astronauts and other space professionals. Weibel has conducted ethnographic research on religion and space at various NASA flight centers around the United States, the Mojave Air and Spaceport, and at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.
A Genetic History of the Americas
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