What makes you … you? Is it your DNA, culture, environment? SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon, Esteban Gómez, and SAPIENS.org Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell speak with anthropologists from around the globe to help us uncover what makes us human. Subscribe now to learn more.The SAPIENS podcast is supported by the Wenner-GrenFoundation and produced by House of Pod.
In this season 2 finale of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon, Chip Colwell, and Esteban Gómez field questions from listeners on Twitter and at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science about what it means to be human. They address human origins and self-awareness, discrimination, social media, and more!
When anthropologist Cathryn Townsend headed into the field in 2009 to study generosity, she knew the project was for her. That’s because she was the only person, other than anthropologist Colin Turnbull, who had lived and studied with both the Mbuti people of the Congo region and the Ik of Uganda, she says. One community was known for its egalitarianism and the other for its selfishness. Tasked with studying generosity in the Ik tribe decades later, Townsend shares her insights.
Anthropologist Elisa Sobo never wanted to study the issue of vaccination. The topic was too fraught, she says, and she didn't want to touch it. But then she initiated a children’s health study at a school in California. Today her work on vaccine hesitancy offers insights into how those on opposing sides might better understand each other and work through this highly controversial issue.
What is it about certain musical traditions that cause them to take root in communities far away from where they originated? Anthropologist Kristina Jacobsen leads SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell on a musical journey into the U.S. Southwest to understand the phenomenon that is Navajo country music. In addition to authoring the book The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging, Jacobsen is a singer-songwriter.
Remember the meme #TheDress? Was it white and gold, or blue and black? With the help of Nicola Jones, a freelance science journalist who writes for Nature and SAPIENS, SAPIENS host Jen Shannon explores the question of color perception to find answers. She learns about the book The World Color Survey, an Amazonian tribe in Peru whose language has no color words, the biology of the human eye.
Anthropologist Sabine Hyland attempts to uncover the secrets held in twisted and colored Andean cords called khipus. Thanks to the collaborative approach of anthropologist Sabine Hyland and local communities, outsiders are finally coming to understand what these khipus mean—for the people of the Andes and for the rest of us.
Anthropologist Roger Lohmann sees a ghost in a dream while working in Papua New Guinea. Even though he knows it's just a dream, he's scared long after he wakes up. To make sense of his dream, Lohmann explores the role dreams play in our waking life and how different cultures make sense of dream worlds. Do all humans dream the same? Or do the cultures we are immersed in shape our dreams? Lohmann has six cultural dream theories that offer some answers to what dreams are and what they mean.
When Thomas Pearson’s newborn daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome, it changed the course of his life forever. Pearson joins SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell to talk about his story, how his training in anthropology prepared him for his daughter’s diagnosis, and what he hopes other people can learn from his experience.
The Denisovans have long been one of the most elusive ancient human cousins, until now. In May 2019, scientists revealed the first fossil evidence of Denisovans outside of the Denisova Cave in Siberia. As the historical human family tree grows, what are we learning about why we're the only ones left?
How come some people think eating insects is disgusting? Join SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell as they dine on many-legged delicacies and delve into the world of entomophagy with anthropologist Julie Lesnik, author of the new book Edible Insects and Human Evolution.
Julie is a professor of anthropology at Wayne State University. She tweets @JulieLesnik and her website is at www.entomoanthro.org. Learn more about eating insects at Sapiens.org: Why Don’t More Humans Eat Bugs?
Season two starts July 30. SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell still big questions about what it means to be human, but this time they’re jumping off from some of the best stories from Sapiens.org, and culminating in questions... from you!
If you have a query about what it means to be human, we want to hear it! Send your questions to us on Facebook at Sapiens.org, tweet them at us @sapiens_org with the hashtag #sapienspodcast, or leave us a short voicemail at 970-368-9730.
How does an immigrant become an American? How does anyone join any group? SAPIENS host Esteban Gomez shares the story of Dr. Morwari Zafar, a researcher who has studied the changes in her own community of Afghan-Americans in Fremont, California, in the wake of 9/11. From the first major wave of immigration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Afghan-American community has been in flux, exemplifying the mysteries of group identity, dynamics, and nationhood.
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon goes on a mission to find out how quinoa travels from farmers’ fields in Huanoquite, Peru, to markets in Lima and the U.S. She discovers quinoa’s complicated past and present: a bloody civil war that shook the nation, the chefs who tried to use food as a racial reconciliation project, and the current economic and social pressures small producers face when they take on huge risks to bring their product from field to market.
Scientists have thought about burial—the act of interring a dead body—as a distinctly human behavior. So what happened when a group of paleoanthropologists discovered a primitive hominid that may have entombed its dead?
And how do people respond when they are unable to find and care for the remains of their loved ones? SAPIENS host Jen Shannon talks to Mercedes Doretti, about the 38,000 people who have disappeared in Mexico since 2006.
Surprise! As a special holiday treat, the SAPIENS team is presenting this unedited conversation between SAPIENS host Chip Colwell and acclaimed science journalist Carl Zimmer about DNA, identity, and heredity.
This conversation was previously excerpted in our episode “Is Your DNA You?” It took place in front of a live audience at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on June 20, 2018.
From space junk and the International Space Station to Elon Musk and SpaceX, space is becoming a more human place. What will it mean for us to live among the stars? SAPIENS host Jen Shannon probes the nascent field of space archaeology and looks to the mystery of exoplanets for answers.
Some athletes seem larger than life. They are revered and imitated—and they seemingly hold a lot of power. But whether they feel empowered in their lives and choices off the field depends on a variety of complex factors. We explore the experiences of black college football players in the U.S. and Fijian rugby players who migrate to play on teams in France to learn more.
What is home? SAPIENS host Esteban Gómez follows Amy Starecheski, a researcher who has studied how squatters went legit and secured homeownership in New York City, as she seeks to answer these questions and more. With Starecheski, Gómez moves through two New York neighborhoods—the Lower East Side in Manhattan and Mott Haven in the Bronx. They discuss how people have navigated massive restructuring and shifts in housing policy in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Humans may have been in North America much earlier than previously thought. Here’s the evidence: chipped rocks, crushed mastodon bones, and reliable dates showing the remains are 130,000 years old. Is that enough to rewrite the history? SAPIENS co-hosts Chip Colwell and Jen Shannon talk to Steven and Kathleen Holen, archaeologists and co-authors of a controversial discovery. And they further evaluate the claims with the help of anthropologist Todd Braje.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. How do you feel? SAPIENS co-host Jen Shannon follows the trail of some contemporary preppers with the help of anthropologist Chad Huddleston. Then she dives into history with Tim Kohler, an archaeologist and expert on Ancestral Puebloan peoples of the U.S. Southwest.
Can robots care? And why should we care if they do? SAPIENS host Jen Shannon meets Pepper the robot, and host Chip Colwell goes on a quest to find out how the robotics industry is (re)shaping intimacy in Japan. He speaks with anthropologists Jennifer Robertson, Daniel White, and Hirofumi Katsuno, all researchers in the field of robotics, to learn more about what artificial emotion can teach us about what it means to be human.
What does your DNA have to do with who you are? On a journey for answers, SAPIENS hosts Chip Colwell, Jen Shannon, and Esteban Gómez take consumer DNA tests and confront murky, interconnected issues of identity and heredity. Their guides include science journalist Carl Zimmer and anthropologists Deborah Bolnick and Kim TallBear.
What makes you … you? Is it your DNA, culture, environment?SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon, Esteban Gómez, and SAPIENS.org Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell speak with anthropologists from around the globe to help us uncover what makes us human. Subscribe now to learn more.
The SAPIENS podcast is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod.