Interrogating Human Origins encourages new critical engagements with the study of human origins, broadening the range of approaches to bring in postcolonial theories, and begin to explore the decolonisation of this complex topic.
The collection of chapters presented in this volume creates spaces for expansion of critical and unexpected conversations about human origins research. Authors from a variety of disciplines and research backgrounds, many of whom have strayed beyond their usual disciplinary boundaries to offer their unique perspectives, all circle around the big questions of what it means to be and become human. Embracing and encouraging diversity is a recognition of the deep complexities of human existence in the past and the present, and it is vital to critical scholarship on this topic.
This book constitutes a starting point for increased interrogation of the important and wide-ranging field of research into human origins. It will be of interest to scholars across multiple disciplines, and particularly to those seeking to understand our ancient past through a more diverse lens.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Contributors
Section 1: Introduction
Interrogating and decolonising the deep human past
Martin Porr and Jacqueline M Matthews
Section 2: Definition of the human and its colonial legacy
IMHO: inventing modern human origins
Modern ontologies of the ‘more-than-animal’ human: provincialising humanism for the present day
Colonialism and narratives of human origins in Asia and Africa
Sheela Athreya and Rebecca Rogers Ackermann
Primordialising Aboriginal Australians: colonialist tropes and Eurocentric views on behavioural markers of modern humans
Ian J McNiven
Section 3: Representation, temporality and narratives of human origins
Old Flames: rekindling ideas of fire, humanity and representation through creative art practice
Ursula K Frederick
Orientalism and origins: the search for firsts in the ‘Cradle of Civilization’
The Beast Without. Becoming human in the science fiction of H.G. Wells
The temporality of humanity and the colonial landscape of the deep human past
Section 4: National, political and historical dimensions of human origins
The Far West from the Far East: decolonisation and human origins in East Asia: the legacy of 1937 and 1948
Interpretative shifts in understanding the prehistoric settlement of the Indian Subcontinent: comparing Western and Indian historical perspectives
Parth R Chauhan
Our earliest ancestors: human and non-human primates of North America
Paulette F Steeves
"If we are all African, then I am nothing", hominin evolution and the politics of identity in South Africa
Section 5: The construction of genetic facts
Naming the sacred ancestors: taxonomic reification and Pleistocene genomic narratives
Traditional owner participation in genetic research: a researcher perspective
Craig Muller and Joe Dortch
Jacqueline M Matthews is a professional archaeologist with Cultural Heritage Management Australia and has wide-ranging experience working with Indigenous communities across Australia. She completed her Masters thesis at University of Western Australia focused on the application of ontological and postcolonial theories to Australian archaeology, which lead to a research interest in the role of Australia in global debates about human origins.
Martin Porr is Associate Professor of Archaeology and a member of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at the University of Western Australia (UWA). His research has so far concentrated on aspects related to Palaeolithic European art, Australian rock art, human origins and postcolonial approaches towards archaeological research. He has conducted fieldwork in Germany, Thailand, Australia, India and the Philippines.