Migration, Mobility, and Dispersal in Prehistory
Most of the public discourse on migration and mobility focuses on policy, using the current situation as a kind of natural state of being, from which all moral and rational arguments can be developed. In this course, we will take the long-term view of human evolution on the geologic time scale and ask ourselves: what is our species’ natural range of residential mobility, and how do we compare with the rest of our closest relatives, both living and extinct? When did humans settle the different continents for the first time? How did different technologies, such as the wheel and long-distance watercraft affect mobility and migration? What is the extent to which social structure and kinship affected dispersal and migration? What is the history of immigration, borders, and intolerance? And finally: what solutions for the future can we glean from our collective historical experience? The course will use primary literature from the fields of archaeology, paleoanthropology, paleogenetics, and archaeolinguistics to guide students toward a better understanding of why and how people moved around the globe in the past.