Us, the Africans. Race, genes and human migration
The word race enjoys a surprising popularity, even among the educated and the liberal; but does it refer to any identifiable biological reality in our species? We think it doesn't. A lecture by geneticist Guido Barbujani, professor at the University of Ferrara (Italy). The lecture is organized by the Italian Cultural Institute in Helsinki.
The study of fossil bones, archaeological finds and, recently, our genome is allowing us to reconstruct otherwise elusive aspects of our remote history. We now know all humankind is descended from African ancestors, who started dispersing in the other continents more than 2 million years ago, and are still moving. "Roots" has become a crucial word in the social and political discourse, often with the added implication that having them in different places might imply different access to rights and resources. However, biological evidence supports the view that humans have no roots, but rather legs and feet, and have been using them for millennia to migrate, explore new territories and meet other people.
Barbujani has worked at the Universities of Padua, State of New York at Stony Brook, London, Bologna, and is now professor of Genetics in Ferrara. His main fields of interest are population genetics, human evolution and public awareness of science.