New Perspectives on Human Diversity

Thursday September 6th - Friday September 7th 2012

Novotel Manly Pacific

Supported by the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science

This workshop is part of an ARC Discovery Project ‘Postgenomic perspectives on human nature’ being run by Prof. Paul Griffiths and Dr Karola Stotz (2009-12). The project is organised around the three themes of fixity, teleology, and universality. The first phase of the project involved empirical research into the role of these themes in vernacular understanding of human nature. Later phases examined how those vernacular conceptions would need to be revised in order to make them defensible in the light of current biology. This workshop is part of our exploration of the theme of universality. It will look at the limitations of existing conceptions of human diversity and to explore novel approaches. An important background to this discussion is the revival of interest in racial and ethnic categories as pragmatic tools of scientific investigation.

Session topics include: Historical perspectives on the scientific study of human diversity; Group classifications and genomics; Cognitive underpinnings of racial cognition; Phylogenetic approaches to human cultural diversity; Human diversity in health and disease; Human diversity and metagenomics; Human diversity and developmental plasticity.

Attendance is by invitation only: contact Prof. Griffiths.

Participants include:
Dr Tatjana Buklijas, The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland
Prof. John Dupre, Director of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter
Prof. Lisa Gannett, Dept. of Philosophy, St Mary’s University
Prof. Susan Lindee, Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
A/Prof. Edouard Machery, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Prof. Warwick Anderson, ARC Laureate Fellow, University of Sydney
Prof. Paul E. Griffiths, Univ. Professorial Research fellow, University of Sydney
Mr Adam Hochman, PhD Candidate, University of Sydney
Dr Maureen O’Malley, ARC Future Fellow, University of Sydney
Dr Karola Stotz, ARC Australian Research Fellow, University of Sydney

Click here for a copy of the program.


Thursday September 6th

Historical perspectives on the scientific study of human diversity

10:00-10:45 Susan Lindee, Pennsylvania: ‘Ghosts, mestizos and living ancestors: Scientists and the study of human groups in the twentieth century’

10:45-11:00 Warwick Anderson, Sydney: Commentary

11:00-11:15 Discussion

11:15-11:30 Morning Tea

Group classifications and Genomics

11:30-12:10 Lisa Gannett, Saint Mary’s: 'Group Categories in Genetics and Genomics: Cases of Breast Cancer and Biogeographical Ancestry'

12:10-12:50 Emma Kowal, Melbourne (& Joanna Radin, Yale): ‘The World in Pieces: Experimenting with Fragments’

12:50-1:05 Discussion

1:05-2:00 Lunch

The Concept of Race

2:00-2:30 Adam Hochman, Sydney: 'Race Naturalists and the Imaginary Diversity Deniers'

2:30-3:00 Edouard Machery, Pittsburgh: ‘The Folk Concept of Race’

3:00-3:15 Dominic Murphy, Sydney: Commentary

3:15-3:30 Discussion

3:30-4:00 Afternoon Tea

Phylogenetic Approaches to Diversity

4:00-5.00 Panel Discussion with Susan Lindee, Warwick Anderson, Lisa Gannett, Emma Kowall, Adam Hochman, Edouard Machery and Dominic Murphy

Drinks, Dinner

Friday September 7th

9:30-10:00 Refreshments

Phylogenetic Approaches to Diversity

10:00-10:30 Paul Griffiths, Sydney: 'Identity through Diversity: Homology as a principle of classification'

10:30-11:00 John Dupré: ‘Human Trees’

11:00-11:15 Mark Olson, UNAM: Commentary

11:15-11:45 Discussion

11:45-12:45 Lunch

Human Plasticity and Diversity in Health and Disease

12:45-1:15 Maureen O'Malley: 'Enterotyping humans: Using metagenomics and microbiomics to classify host organisms'

1.15-1.45 Tatjana Buklijas: ‘Beyond the thrifty genotype: developmental and evolutionary perspectives on diversity in disease susceptibility’

1:45-2:15 Karola Stotz: ‘Developmental plasticity and human nature’

2.15-2:35 Discussion

2:35-3.00 Afternoon Tea

3:00-4:00 Panel Discussion: Paul Griffiths, John Dupre, Mark Olson, Maureen O’Malley, Tatjana Buklijas and Karola Stotz

End of Workshop