Posted on 22 March 2013
Stories about the biological origins of human society and culture are consumed enthusiastically by the public, but while natural scientists have been happy to contribute to the development of such accounts, the human sciences have tended to remain aloof from such endeavours.
Recently, however, some scholars have argued that the Deep History of humanity – more commonly known as ‘pre-history’ – should be subsumed within the discipline of ‘history’, the purview of which would then become the whole span of time from the emergence of anatomically
modern human beings to the present day. Such a project throws up numerous methodological problems, on which this proposed programme of
research will focus.
It will analyse the ways in which conceptions of the deep human past have changed over time by examining the methodological development of archaeology and palaeoanthropology. As such, it will not only make a contribution to the history of science and historiography, but also to the public understanding of both history and science, and their wider political significance.
In the current climate of economic crisis, financial support for the humanities and social sciences has been radically cut back, and the intellectual and practical contributions made by our disciplines to national life are under attack from both government and the media.
This project will engage with both with the public and with natural scientists, and in so doing, emphasise the major contribution that history of science can make to the understanding of both what it means to be human, and the telling of the human story/stories.