The Speaking Ape: Language and the Logic of Origins in the Nineteenth Century

When:12 Mar 2019, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Room 112, Morven Brown, Kensington Campus, UNSW
Who:Dr Emily Kern, Earth Histories, School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW
Emily Kern

Abstract: Until the early 1950s, international scientific consensus placed the cradle of humankind in central Asia. This paper traces the origins of the ‘out of Asia’ hypothesis in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, arguing that the philological tradition played a major, unrecognized role in the development of evolutionary theory.

Bio: Emily Kern is a historian of the modern global geosciences, specializing in the history of human evolution and paleoanthropology. She is currently at work on a book about the long history of the African origins hypothesis and the search for the cradle of humankind. Her research focuses on the relationship between the production of scientific knowledge about the human species and the production of global political power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. (magna cum laude) in diplomatic history in 2012, where she was also an undergraduate research fellow in the Penn Humanities Forum and the Penn Program in Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Citizenship. She completed an M.A. in the history of science at Princeton in 2014, and defended her Ph.D. at Princeton in January 2018.

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