De-Colonizing Science? The Case of Human Origins Research

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 - 18:00

De-Colonizing Science? The Case of Human Origins Research
Christa Kuljian, the author of the acclaimed Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins
Will be in discussion with Hlonipha Mokoena
Chaired by Sarah Nuttall
Scientists and their research are often shaped by the prevailing social and political context. Darwin’s Hunch explores this trend, and provides fresh insight on the search for human origins in South Africa over the past century. Kuljian asks “What impact did colonialism have on the views of scientists studying human evolution in the early twentieth century? What influence did apartheid have on the search? How have the changing scientific views about race, and racism, affected efforts to understand human evolution?”

Darwin’s Hunch was published in November 2016. We will take a close and sustained look at the arguments Kuljian makes, the pressures that her book puts on the scientific community in South Africa, the implications of publishing this book at this time, and the outcomes and challenges, political and social, of what we now know, through this detailed and meticulous research.  Professor Mokoena will engage Christa Kuljian in bold, outspoken and forthright discussion on this complicated and contested topic.  

“With its unsparing wealth of personal and historical detail, there’s nothing else like Darwin’s Hunch available.”
- Ian Tattersall, Curator Emeritus, American Museum of Natural History

“Powerful and revealing. Darwin’s Hunch is a fantastic read.”

- Xolela Mangcu, Professor of Sociology, University of Cape Town, and author of Biko: A Biography
“Kuljian’s writing is astute and insightful, bringing out new dimensions and details throughout.”
- Saul Dubow, Queen Mary, University of London, author of Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa
“Kuljian’s excellent book examines the search for human origins in SA and the context that tainted it.. an author at the height of her skills
- Rehana Rossouw, Business Day
Christa Kuljian is a free-lance writer based in Johannesburg.  She writes and teaches narrative non-fiction. Christa is currently a Research Associate at WiSER.  She is the author of Sanctuary (Jacana Media 2013) and Darwin’s Hunch (Jacana Media 2016). 
Wednesday, 17th May 2017
WiSER Seminar Room
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
East Campus, Wits University