Monday workshop
Monday, February 28, 2022 - 3:30pm


In keeping with current Covid-19 recommendations, this workshop will follow a hybrid format. The presentation will occur in-person with a small audience of Penn faculty and students and will be streamed via Zoom for all those wishing to join remotely. Participants on Zoom will be able to participate in the Q+A.


"Ancient Migration at the Bering Strait: A Trans-disciplinary and Trans-National History of Scientific Investigation"


Brooke Penaloza-Patzak, Visiting Scholar University of Pennsylvania, Erwin Schrödinger Postdoctoral Fellow of the Austrian Science Fund


At its narrowest point, the Bering Strait separates the continents of Asia and North America by just over 52 miles. The name for this area, now comprised of land and water but home to the world’s most extensive steppe up until some 12,000 years ago, is Beringia. By the 1860’s, this region had become a major point of interest for scientists seeking to establish the origins and potential migratory routes taken by the Americas’ earliest indigenous peoples. By the 1880s, a disciplinarily diverse and international array of scientists began to converge on Beringia in search of evidence to investigate these questions. Proponents of the Beringia migration theory hypothesized that comparative analysis of natural and man-made materials found either side of the Bering Strait would elucidate the relationships between humans inhabiting the old and new worlds, and the nature of human affinity more generally—a supposition intricately caught up in national alliances and debates regarding human difference, climate change, and geological time scales. In this talk, I will begin to untangle that complicated history, and discuss the interconnection between some of the different disciplinary and national interests and approaches at stake.