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STS/GWS Admixtures Seminar Series: Ancient Human Remains, DNA and the National Imagination

Date: 11 February 2014 Time: 1.00-2.00 pm

Venue: FASS MR 2

Venla Oikkonen, Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki

Since the early 1990s, population genetics has increasingly provided an interpretative framework within which ideas of national origins, destinies and communities are being imagined. My presentation explores the role of ancient human remains in these emerging national narratives. In particular, I focus on the role DNA in attempts to connect prehistoric human fossils to an imagined national trajectory. I use two cases to illustrate the phenomenon: the legal, ethnic and cultural controversy surrounding Kennewick Man (or The Ancient One) discovered in Washington State in 1996, and the media coverage of Cheddar Man, excavated in Somerset in 1903 and linked (through mitochondrial DNA) to a local schoolteacher and two secondary school students in 1997. These cases point to key differences in the ways in which American and British national imaginaries incorporate ancient human remains into a temporally defined and genetically grounded national ontology.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Centre for Science Studies, Sociology


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