[SydPhil] HPS Research S2 Seminar Series - Professor Emma Kowal
hps.admin at sydney.edu.au
Mon Oct 22 10:44:10 AEDT 2018
SCHOOL OF HISTORY
Held in conjunction with the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science
SEMESTER TWO 2018
RESEARCH SEMINAR SERIES
Monday 29th October
PROFESSOR EMMA KOWAL
Emma Kowal is Professor of Anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute and Convener of the Science and Society Network at Deakin University.
Defining race: A century in the life of an Aboriginal hair sample.
Making his way home from the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress, British ethnologist Alfred Haddon caught the Trans-Australian Railway from Sydney to meet his ocean liner in Perth. At a short stop at Golden Ridge siding, east of Kalgoorlie, he cut a deadlock from the head of an unidentified ‘young Aboriginal man’. It contributed to Haddon’s extensive hair collection, the basis of his theory of three races based on hair form. In 1945 it was moved from the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to the newly established Duckworth Laboratory under the directorship of physical anthropologist Jack Trevor, a signatory of the 1951 UNESCO Statement on Race. It stayed there until Danish evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev obtained it, extracted DNA from it and published the ‘first Aboriginal genome’ in 2011. The genomic analysis indicated 70,000 years of Aboriginal Australian genetic distinctiveness. In the process of publishing the paper Willerslev established a new standard of international ethical practice. Although his university thought ethics approval was unnecessary because the specimen was ‘archaeological’, he eventually sought and gained approval from the Goldfields Land and Sea Council. This paper traces the story of this particular piece of human biology from a remote railway siding to Cambridge, Copenhagen and Kalgoorlie. It explores the material entanglement of interwar race science, post-war scientific anti-racism and 21st century postcolonial genomics, showing it is no surprise the ‘first Aboriginal genome’ was derived from a hair sample – a substance that only rarely yields autosomal DNA - and not one of the plentiful frozen blood samples stored in Australian and international institutions.
WHERE: SEMINAR ROOM 446 NEW LAW ANNEX
WHEN: MONDAY 29TH OCTOBER
All Welcome | No Booking Required | Free
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