Are Racism, Violence, and Inequality Part of "Human Nature"? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters
Monday, November 13, 2017
Wenner-Gren Foundation Offices, 470 Park Ave South, 8th Floor, New York
The Anthropology Section
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.
Human evolution is ongoing and human populations continue to grow in size and complexity. Getting a handle on “the human” in the Anthropocene is no easy matter and getting the science of human evolution right is important. It turns out that meaning, imagination, and hope are as central to the human story as are bones, genes, and ecologies. Neither selfish aggression nor peaceful altruism dominates human behavior as a whole. We are a species distinguished by our extraordinary capacity for creative cooperation, our simultaneously extreme biological diversity and homogeneity, and our ability to imagine possibilities and to make them material reality.
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examples, of our past and present to illustrate why, and how, the science of human evolution—far from being dead or outdated--is relevant today.
Time of Lectures: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).
Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public.
470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Preregistration through the New York Academy of Sciences website, firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600) is strongly recommended since seating is limited.