Department of Anthropology

Seminar Series with Agustin Fuentes, University of Notre Dame

Are Racism and Inequality Part of "Human Nature"? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters

Fri, February 16, 2018 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Agustin Fuentes is the Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.  

He is one of the founders and key researchers in the emerging field of ethnoprimatology. Fuentes has worked on the human-other primate interface extensively and has focused on the macaque-human interface for nearly 14 years. He has also collaborated with Gibraltaran colleagues on three previous research projects. Fuentes brings together primatological field experience, ethnographic training, landscape approaches and extensive engagement with evolutionary theory.

Abstract: Many popular accounts of human evolution do a great job of conveying interpretations and perspectives which are entertaining, but often wrong. Such accounts offer incomplete, and at times toxic, portrayals of human biology and evolution that can be used to promulgate and perpetuate racist, misogynistic, and ill-informed views of “human nature.” We are left with perceptions and policies of what is “natural” in contemporary society that damage our capacity to challenge inequity, discrimination, and bias.In the 21st century significant shifts in our understanding of evolutionary biology and theory and of genetics, plus radical expansions in the archeological and fossil records, have led to increasing collaboration across multiple fields of inquiry. Collaboration and expansion of knowledge are altering our capacities to investigate and to understand our history and our future(s). This lecture offers a glimpse, via specific examples, of our past and present to illustrate why, and how, the science of human evolution is relevant today.


Sponsored by: Department of Anthropology and the College of Liberal Arts

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