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Humanities scholars to discuss 'Origins: Causation and Boundaries'


April 01, 2011

What does the concept of origins teach about being human? What qualifies as the origin of a complex result? Does it matter where one places the starting line or who is asking the questions? “Origins: Causation and Boundaries,” a symposium organized by fellows from the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University, will be held April 7 and 8 on the Tempe campus. It brings six national scholars together with ASU scholars to discuss questions of human origins.

The humanities symposium, held in West Hall, Room 135, is free and open to the public, though RSVPs are requested. Registration and other information are available at http://ihr.asu.edu/origins or 480-965-3000.

“Although the concept of origins is often applied to the cosmos or to physical life on Earth, it also evokes human-centered questions,” said Sally Kitch, a Regents’ Professor and director of the Institute for Humanities Research.

“What effect does the quest for origins have on the possibilities of discovery? Is the drawing of boundaries an empirical or ethical process, or both? How are the facts of origins related to the theoretical perspectives of the observers? This symposium explores such questions by offering conversation about nature and human origins, the origins of social otherness, and the origins of morality,” Kitch said.

The symposium is presented in panel discussions over the two days, closing with a roundtable discussion “In Pursuit of Origins: Why Do They Matter?” Here is the schedule:

April 7, 9 a.m., “Origins of Human Evolution” featuring Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy, Florida State University. ASU participants are Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, professor and director, Center for Jewish Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jason Robert, associate professor and director, Bioethics, Policy and Law Program in the School of Life Sciences.

April 7, 10:30 a.m., “Fluid Boundaries: Bodies, Nature and Culture,” featuring Stacy Alaimo, professor of English, University of Texas, Arlington. ASU participants are Joni Adamson, associate profess of English and environmental humanities, School of Letters and Sciences; and Sally Kitch, Regents’ Professor of women and gender studies and director of the IHR.

April 7, 1:30 p.m., “Taxonomy, Race and Scientific Racism,” featuring Rachel Caspari, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work, Central Michigan University. ASU participants are Andrew Barnes, associate professor of history, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies; and Rachel Scott, assistant professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

April 7, 3 p.m., “Race, Ethnicity and Disease,” featuring Guenter Risse, professor of history of medicine, University of Washington. ASU participants are Rachel Scott, assistant professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change; and Lisa Anderson, associate professor of women and gender studies, School of Social Transformation.

April 8, 9 a.m., “Good and Evil,” featuring Robert Gurland, professor of philosophy, New York University. ASU participants are Lucy Hawking, writer-in-residence, Origins Project; and Angel Pinillos, assistant professor of philosophy, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

April 8, 10:30 a.m., “The Evolution of Morality,” featuring Adina Roskies, professor of philosophy, Dartmouth College. ASU participants are Angel Pinillos, assistant professor of philosophy, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies; and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, professor and director, Center for Jewish Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

April 8, 1 p.m., “In Pursuit of Origins: Why Do They Matter?” is a roundtable discussion featuring from ASU William Kimbel, professor and director of the Institute of Human Origins; Joan McGregor, professor of philosophy, School of Philosophical, Historical and Religious Studies; Kent Wright, associate professor of history, School of Philosophical, Historical and Religious Studies; Eddie McCaffray, graduate student in history and graduate research assistant, Institute for Humanities Research; and Leslie Daniels, graduate student in English and graduate research assistant, Institute for Humanities Research.

The symposium “Origins: Causation and Boundaries” culminates this year’s fellows seminar, which brings to ASU creative scholars from around the country to discuss how their research – from the origins of evolution to eco-feminism, the anthropology of race to the scientific and cultural constructions of disease, as well as the evolution of morality and the roots of evil – relies on, problematizes, or further engenders the study of origins.

In addition to the fellows program, IHR offers a variety of innovative and competitive grant programs. Additional information is online at http://ihr.asu.edu.

“Origins: Causation and Boundaries” is being held in collaboration with the ASU Origins Project Science and Culture Festival, scheduled April 7-11. Stephen Hawking, Werner Herzog, Anthony Grayling, Liz Lerman and Jean Auel will be among the celebrities and scientists at ASU for this event. Detailed information is available at http://origins.asu.edu/events/festival.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Carol Hughes, carol.hughes@asu.edu
480-965-6375
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences