Jennifer Raff

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Jennifer Raff


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Jennifer Raff is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas with a dual Ph.D. in anthropology and genetics and over fourteen years of experience in researching ancient and modern human DNA from the Americas. In addition to her research, she has been writing on issues of scientific literacy and anthropological research at her own website, Violent Metaphors, and for The Guardian, HuffPost and Evolution Institute blogs for several years. Since 2019 she has been writing a monthly column for Forbes on emerging research in genetics and archaeology.

Average rating: 3.81 · 1,284 ratings · 204 reviews · 1 distinct workSimilar authors
Origin: A Genetic History o...

3.81 avg rating — 1,284 ratings — published 2022 — 9 editions
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“this usage is generally an attempt to avoid the term Indian, which was coined by Christopher Columbus in a vain attempt to support his initial claim that he had arrived in India.”
Jennifer Raff, Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas

“The question of whether Native Americans were human was settled—at least as far as the Catholic Church was concerned—by Pope Paul III in his 1537 encyclical Sublimis Deus. Catholics were informed that Indians and other “unknown” peoples not specifically mentioned in the Bible were “truly men” and should not be enslaved. It was essential instead that they should be converted to the faith by any means necessary. This did not mean that they were treated humanely by colonizers, who committed countless atrocities against Indigenous peoples, including enslaving them anyway.”
Jennifer Raff, Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas

“By the 18th century, the Mound Builder hypothesis had become firmly entrenched in public opinion as the leading explanation of North American prehistory (13). Scholars and antiquarians continued to debate the identity of the Mound Builders into the 19th century, with the majority agreeing that they were not the ancestors of Native Americans. President Andrew Jackson explicitly cited this hypothesis as partial justification for the Indian Removal Act of 1830, barely 40 years after Jefferson published his book. In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the west, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes (14). Thus did the idea of Manifest Destiny become inexorably linked with concepts of racial categories. When someone asks me why I get so incensed about the concepts of “lost civilizations” and “Mound Builders” that are promoted by cable “history” shows, I simply remind them of this: In the years that followed Jackson’s signing of the Indian Removal Act, over 60,000 Native Americans were expelled from their lands and forcibly relocated west of the Mississippi River. Thousands of people—including children and elders—died at the hands of the US government, which explicitly cited this mythology as one of its justifications.”
Jennifer Raff, Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas

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