Date(s) - October 19, 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
LSC 304, Lory Student Center
Sheela Athreya, Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University
Current models of Homo sapiens evolution privilege the data–and morphology–from Western Europe to create an essentialist definition of “anatomical modernity.” They both implicitly and explicitly frame any departure from this morphology as “archaic,” thus casting many Australasian populations as non-modern regardless of their age. Here, I critique the way in which the study of “modern human origins” is culturally embedded in a post-colonial framework by reviewing the political and social biases that have led to the construction and perpetuation of an essentialist European perspective on Homo sapiens evolution. I then present a new way to our species’ evolutionary history, using on my ongoing research in India. This project integrates morphological, genomic, and archaeological data from the Bhimbetka rock shelter burials in Central India, and demonstrates the value of diversifying the voices that shape our theoretical frameworks in paleoanthropology.
About the speaker:
Sheela Athreya is an associate professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on Middle and Late Pleistocene human evolution, particularly in eastern Eurasia. Her publications include empirical analyses of hominin fossil data as well as reflexive analyses of the effects of colonialism on present-day paleoanthropological models.