BOOK REVIEW: Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins
Author Christa Kuljian’s book reveals the discovery of our origins was stained by more recent history, writes Rehana Rossouw
It is deeply ironic and equally tragic that the fossil record and DNA testing prove that all of humankind has a shared ancestry and heritage that began in SA — where for decades politicians were wedded to an ideology of racial difference and white superiority. As a child Christa Kuljian watched the BBC series The Ascent of Man in 1973, which focused on the discovery of the Taung Child skull and concluded that it was "almost certain now that man evolved in Africa". The series lodged in her mind and contributed to her decision seven years later to focus on the history of science at Harvard University. One of her lecturers was the palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote in his book The Mismeasure of Man that "science, since people must do it, is a socially embedded activity. It progresses by hunch, vision and intuition. Much of its change through time does not record a closer approach to absolute truth, but the alteration of cultural contexts that influence it so strongly." Darwin...
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