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.

section 1|2 pages


chapter 1|30 pages

Interrogating and decolonising the deep human past

ByMartin Porr, Jacqueline M. Matthews

section 2|2 pages

Definition of the human and its colonial legacy

chapter 2|21 pages


34Inventing modern human origins
ByIain Davidson

chapter 3|16 pages

Modern ontologies of the ‘more-than-animal’ human

Provincialising humanism for the present day
ByKay Anderson

chapter 4|24 pages

Colonialism and narratives of human origins in Asia and Africa

BySheela Athreya, Rebecca Rogers Ackermann

chapter 5|17 pages

Primordialising Aboriginal Australians

Colonialist tropes and Eurocentric views on behavioural markers of modern humans
ByIan J. McNiven

section 3|2 pages

Representation, temporality and narratives of human origins

chapter 6|24 pages

Old flames

114Rekindling ideas of fire, humanity and representation through creative art practice
ByUrsula K. Frederick

chapter 7|21 pages

Orientalism and origins

The search for firsts in the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’
ByAllison Mickel

chapter 8|24 pages

The beast without

Becoming human in the science fiction of H. G. Wells
ByJohn McNabb

section 4|2 pages

National, political and historical dimensions of human origins

chapter 10|28 pages

The Far West from the Far East

210Decolonisation and human origins in East Asia: the legacy of 1937 and 1948
ByRobin Dennell

chapter 11|18 pages

Interpretative shifts in understanding the prehistoric settlement of the Indian Subcontinent

Comparing Western and Indian historical perspectives
ByParth R. Chauhan

chapter 12|22 pages

Our earliest ancestors

Human and non-human primates of North America
ByPaulette F. Steeves

chapter 13|14 pages

‘If we are all African, then I am nothing’

Hominin evolution and the politics of identity in South Africa
ByAmanda Esterhuysen

section 5|2 pages

The construction of genetic facts

chapter 14|15 pages

Naming the sacred ancestors

294Taxonomic reification and Pleistocene genomic narratives
ByJonathan Marks

chapter 15|16 pages

Traditional owner participation in genetic research

A researcher perspective
ByCraig Muller, Joe Dortch