Indian Anthropologist: Picking a Bone with Evolutionary Essentialism

From the article:

So, to reduce H. sapiens evolution and behavior to the binary of “archaic” and “modern” and then search for the first appearance of the latter in our biology or artifacts is an exercise in essentialism. Membership in each is based on Eurocentric notions of what constitutes humanness, not on criteria that have been objectively defined and can be empirically uncovered exclusively through the scientific method. The entire narrative of H. sapiens evolution requires revision every time there is a new find not just because science is self-correcting, but because the current scientific model is fundamentally flawed.

But of course, scientific models self-correct.

http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2018/09/18/picking-a-bone-with-evolutionary-essentialism/

1 Like

This is a very good article by an Indian anthropologist (@Ashwin_s). She has an important point:

Reviewers and colleagues tell me that our perspective exhibits an Indian ethnocentrism, but do western scholars recognize the ways in which their own ethnocentric biases continue to shape the discipline? We believe that the act of bringing this alternative perspective into paleoanthropology is necessary for the healthy development of the science. The National Science Foundation and Wenner-Gren Foundation realize this, and are supporting research such as ours. Rather than dismiss our Asian colleagues as ethnocentric, we can integrate their perspectives, explore different patterns of H. sapiens evolution in different regions, and acknowledge different modalities of ascertaining paleoanthropological facts.

I’m sure Alan Templeton would agree. It is pretty clear that the Out of Africa Model is just a high level cartoon, at best. The real story is far more interesting and complex.

1 Like

I assume you are speaking about “Indian” in terms of geography?
I really don’t get the significance of race or the concept of a nation 20000 years ago.

It’s evident that all human beings who currently populate the world are very similar in terms of genetics. So it makes sense to me to look for a common origins for the human beings who exist now.
I don’t know if the author is aware, but even Hindu mythology has a first man (called manu) and a global flood, with a man selected by God (Vishnu in this case) who builds a boat to save himself,his family and some animals.
Interestingly enough the word for human in Sanskrit is manusya, Meaning coming from manu.
The same word is used for humanity in many Indian languages including my mother tongue.
Of course that’s just one creation myth in Hinduism. There are other versions also.

A “south Asian” ethnocentric perspective might be something most Indians don’t even recognise.
I have no idea what the article is talking about… but then, perhaps an Indian scientists may resonate with it more.
A south Asian Scientists ethnocentric perspective perhaps?

1 Like