Department of Anthropology

Anthropology Seminar Series presents: Jonathan Marks, "Meta-Science, or an Anthropology of Science"

Fri, November 6, 2009 | EPS 1.128

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

The presenter, Jonathan Marks, is a professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina @ Charlotte. This talk is free and open to the public.

Talk Abstract:

While the constructedness of natural facts is taken for granted in much of anthropology, biological anthropology - which often constitutes the interface between anthropology and science – commonly remains isolated from, or even threatened by, the anthropological study of science.  I identify two problems for biological anthropology – un-scientific creationism and scientific racism – as illustrative of the value of an anthropology of science to an ostensibly scientific anthropology.  Historically, evolutionary science has had to navigate a course between a crisis of morality and a crisis of authority, often (in retrospect) unsuccessfully.  As a result, today it is actually more scientifically acceptable to be racist than to be a creationist.  Oddly, though, much anti-creationist literature and discourse is framed in problematic, sometimes paranoid, 19th-century positivist terms.  An anthropological approach to science might suggest that the most significant issue in science education is not “Who is for or against science?” but rather, “Under what circumstances should the pronouncements of scientists be rejected?”


Jonathan Marks is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. His work bridges biological and sociocultural anthropology, and his interests include human/primate evolution; race; critical, historical, and social studies of human genetics, evolution, and variation; anthropology of science; and molecular genetics and evolution.  He is the author of over 100 articles and five books, including Why I Am Not A Scientist: Anthropology and Modern Knowledge (2009), What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and their Genes (2002), and Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History (1995).  Dr. Marks received the J. I. Staley Prize from the School of American Research (2009) and the W. W. Howells Book Award from the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association (2003) for What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee, and he is a recipient of the American Anthropological Association/Mayfield Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology (1999).  For more information, see

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