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Africa: 300'000 years of human diversity

English title Africa: 300'000 years of human diversity
Applicant Sanchez-Mazas Alicia
Number 186511
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Unité d'anthropologie Département de génétique et évolution Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Genetics
Start/End 01.04.2019 - 31.03.2020
Approved amount 49'004.00
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Keywords (11)

Afrique; Homo sapiens; Histoire du peuplement; Evolution humaine; Diversités biologique et culturelle; Migrations humaines; Adaptations aux environnements; Génétique; Archéologie préhistorique; Anthropologie; Innovations techno-économiques

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Tous les humains actuels ont une origine unique en Afrique, comme l’attestent la découverte de fossiles très anciens sur ce territoire et de multiples résultats de la génétique. La première population de notre espèce, Homo sapiens, apparue il y a quelques 300'000 ans, se serait d’abord largement multipliée et disséminée en Afrique, puis ces humains auraient migré également dans le reste du monde. C’est aussi dans le continent africain que les humains auraient connu une extraordinaire diversification par leurs migrations, leurs échanges et leurs adaptations, à la fois biologiques et culturelles, à toutes sortes d’environnements. Cette longue histoire du peuplement explique que l’Afrique renferme aujourd’hui une étonnante diversité humaine, tant génétique que linguistique et culturelle, la plupart du temps méconnue ou sous-estimée.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs de l’exposition

Cette exposition est destinée à raconter à un large public les résultats les plus récents des recherches scientifiques portant sur l’histoire du peuplement africain. Plusieurs équipes d’anthropologues, d’archéologues et de généticiens, en collaboration avec des partenaires spécialisés dans la création d’expositions et la communication scientifique, mettent en scène l’évolution humaine depuis ses origines en Afrique et expliquent comment cette évolution a conduit à l’étonnante diversité que l’on observe aujourd’hui dans ce continent. Cette exposition doit aussi contribuer à défaire les nombreux préjugés hérités d’un passé colonial à propos des populations africaines.

Présentation de l’exposition

L’exposition « Afrique : 300'000 ans de diversité humaine » sera présentée, dans un premier temps, dans le contexte universitaire (salle d’exposition de l’Université de Genève), puis au Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de la ville de Genève où elle accueillera un large public.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.04.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Project partner

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
John Relethford, State University of New York à Oneonta United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Nicolas Senn, UNIGE Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Vincent Serneels, Université de Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève Switzerland (Europe)
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Marian Vanhaeren, Université de Bordeaux France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Alice Dunoyer, EPFL architecte Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Yves Aloys Lolo Robellaz, Les studios lolos Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
La souris verte Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Collaborateurs, post-docs, Phd et masters de l'Unité d'Anthropologie UNIGE Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Service de communication UNIGE Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Arnaud Wagnières, graphiste Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Jacqueline Studer, Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Viktor Cerny Czech Republic (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Shannon McPherron, Institut Max Planck, Leipzig Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Sarah Tishkoff, University of Pennsylvania United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Pierre-Jean Texier, Université de Bordeaux France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Comment penser le vivre ensemble de sociétés diversifiées ? Western Switzerland 2020
Media relations: radio, television Afrique: 300'000 ans de diversité humaine en expo RTS, émission CQFD Western Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Atelier: Faites comme eux! Western Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Atelier: Mesurez-vous! Western Switzerland 2019
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Catalogue de l'exposition (MHN et UNIGE): Afrique 300'000 ans de diversité humaine Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television D'où venons-nous? Qui sommes-nous? Léman Bleu Western Switzerland 2019
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Flyer de l'exposition: Afrique, 300'000 and de diversité humaine Western Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Formation continue de l'ES II: Diversité africaine et histoire du peuplement humain Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Gènes et vestiges racontent une histoire africaine de 300'000 ans Journal de l'Unige Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media L'Afrique berceau de la mixité des peuples GHI Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television L'Afrique il y a 300'000 ans: aux origines de notre espèce Radio Vostok Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television L'Afrique, 300'000 ans de diversité humaine RTS, émission CQFD Western Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Le développement culturel des premiers Homo sapiens en Afrique Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Les secrtes du paléo(lithique) révélés grâce à la génétique Tribune de Genève Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Sept milliards d'humains, tous animaux, tous africains! Le Courrier Western Switzerland 2019
Video/Film Tablette pédadogique: Changements climatiques Western Switzerland 2019
Video/Film Tablette pédagogique: Afrique, un continent immense Western Switzerland 2019
Video/Film Tablette pédagogique: Aliments africains? Western Switzerland 2019
Video/Film Tablette pédagogiqure: Langues africaines Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Tous humains, tous différents RTS, émission La Ligne de Coeur Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Une transition néolithique pas comme les autres Journal de l'Unige Western Switzerland 2019
Video/Film Vidéo pédadogique: Apprendre à porter sa vue au loin Western Switzerland 2019

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159669 Human genomic population structure and phenotype-genotype variation in ADME genes along a latitudinal transect from Africa to Europe 01.11.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163022 Peuplement humain et paléoenvironnement en Afrique de l'Ouest - Projet Falémé 01.10.2015 Project funding (special)
144180 Early human settlements in contrasting environments: HLA molecular variation and its link to population expansions and immune adaptation 01.12.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
49472 Evolution paléoclimatique et peuplement humain en Afrique de l'Ouest. 01.04.1997 Project funding (Div. I-III)
143445 Peuplement humain et paléoenvironnement en Afrique de l'Ouest - Projet Falémé 01.10.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
112395 Evolution paléoclimatique et peuplement humain en Afrique de l'Ouest 01.04.2006 Project funding (special)
124657 Evolution paléoclimatique et peuplement humain en Afrique de l'Ouest 01.04.2009 Project funding (special)
169403 Tracking Humans in Pre-colonial West Africa: Bio-Archaeological Study in the Dogon Country (Mali) 01.10.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
100519 Evolution paléoclimatique et peuplement humain en Afrique de l'Ouest. 01.04.2003 Project funding (special)
59375 Genetic variability in East Africa: GM allotypes and mito- chondrial control-region sequences in the Nyangatom and Dasenech from the Omo valley 01.04.2000 Project funding (Div. I-III)
59571 Evolution paléoclimatique et peuplement humain en Afrique de l'Ouest. 01.04.2000 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

This project aims at presenting a scientific exhibition entitled “Africa: 300’000 years of human diversity” to a large, non-specialist public, including schoolchildren and middle and high-school/professional-school students from Geneva and surrounding regions. The African origin of all current humans is, indeed, a scientific paradigm nowadays largely conveyed in medias and school textbooks, but there is a huge gap between this basic information and the understanding of what happened on this continent since our origins, around 300’000 years ago, and how it gave rise to the enormous diversity of African peoples and cultures existing today. The exhibition to be setup under the frame of this project, in parallel with a scientific conference, intends to precisely fill in this gap.The content of the exhibition is directly related to the scientific research carried out by the four applicants (who are all principal investigators at the Anthropology Unit (UA) of the Department of Genetics and Evolution of the University of Geneva) within the frame of their SNF granted projects. It consists of presenting the current biological and cultural diversity observed within and among human populations in Africa and of explaining how this diversity built up through multiple innovations, migrations and adaptations to heterogeneous environments during the evolution of our species Homo sapiens since its origin in this continent. The exhibition thus displays information related to several disciplines, namely human population and evolutionary genetics and genomics, physical anthropology, prehistoric archaeology and ethno-archaeology, based on their most recent scientific results.The exhibition will first be shown in the Carl-Vogt exhibition room of the University of Geneva during 3 months, from June to August 2019, and then at the Natural History Museum (MNH) of Geneva during 5 months, from September 2019 to January 2020. In addition to the four applicants of this proposal, who are responsible for the general design, scientific content and animation of the exhibition, the project includes four Partners: an expert in communication (working both at UA and MNH) and the Communication Service of the University of Geneva will take care of the museological aspects and dissemination, the 'Publics et Expositions' Service of the Museum of Natural History of Geneva will take care of the pedagogic material and organise guided visits for different target groups (including children), and a member of the 'Institut Universitaire de Formation des Enseignants' (IUFE) will coordinate inn-house training to prepare secondary school teachers of Geneva to organise guided tours for their students. Several collaborators, post-doc researchers, PhD and master students of the Anthropology Unit, coming from both Europe and Africa, will also take part in various parts of the process. This exhibition is of crucial importance for the society in general, as it will raise awareness that Africa embraces a huge human biological, linguistic and cultural diversity as a result of its long history, contrarily to a widespread belief or prejudice that Africans constitute a homogeneous « race » outside of history and progress. It will also put Africa into the larger context of the evolution of our species Homo sapiens, which will highlight its role as the cradle of all modern humans and their extraordinary diversity. The content of the exhibition, which is based on the most recent results of several disciplines, will also help updating the scientific knowledge to be taught within the frame of middle and high-school/professional school programmes in biology (e.g. genetics, human evolution), which will be most beneficial, in the long term, for public education in Geneva and its surroundings. The exhibition is also conceived to be easily implemented in the future to other institutions, in Switzerland and abroad.
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