show episodes
 
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.
 
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show series
 
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell speaks with evolutionary geneticist Hugo Zeberg about his surprising discovery of a connection between Neanderthal DNA and a greater risk for severe COVID-19. Zeberg is also a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.Read the paper in Nature Zeb…
 
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell speaks with Melanie Adams, the director of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (ACM), about #Moments of Resilience, the ACM’s effort to document and eventually tell African Americans’ stories about the times we're living through now. They also discuss the unique role of a community museum, the value of oral histor…
 
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon speaks with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher about her research on love, sex, and everything in between. Fisher is the author of six books, the chief scientific adviser for the online dating site Match.com, and a leading researcher on dating trends in America. In this episode, Fisher shares insights from a recent surv…
 
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell talks with experimental archaeologist Farrell Monaco about her work re-creating ancient Roman bread and what it means to reconnect with bakers of the past. Farrell also offers some tips for pandemic-era bakers who want to take their new hobby to the next level. For more from Farrell, her award-winning website is Tavola Med…
 
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon speaks with Agustín Fuentes, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University, to unpack his insight that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biosocial phenomenon. They also discuss his recent suggestion that the virus “is not the only hazard to human health and well-being” right now. Recently elected to the American Academy of A…
 
Everyone seems to have a story about the moment when the novel coronavirus pandemic stopped being an abstract problem “somewhere out there” and started being a very real and personal threat. In this episode of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell interrogate the problem with abstract threats with the help of anthropologists Hugh …
 
At some time in the future, the novel coronavirus pandemic will fade. What will this globally traumatic contagion leave in its wake? In this episode of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell keep an eye on the future while looking to the past for answers: In the 14th century, the Black Death killed as much as one-third of the popul…
 
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon interviews Laurence Ralph, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University. Ralph is also a co-director of Princeton’s Center on Transnational Policing, the editor of Current Anthropology, and the author of the new book The Torture Letters: Reckoning With Police Violence, which exposes the Chicago Police Department’s hi…
 
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell interviews Elic Weitzel, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Connecticut, about his recent article for SAPIENS that considers how the global pandemic may impact climate change—for better or for worse. Weitzel is currently working on his dissertation on the environmental effects of the Black Death on 1…
 
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the SAPIENS podcast is going viral. In this first episode of season 3, SAPIENS hosts Chip Colwell and Jen Shannon revisit a story about preppers from our first season. Jen calls Chad Huddleston, one of the anthropologists featured on that show, to find out how he and the preppers he studies are handling…
 
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! You can follow all of our expert guests on T…
 
Until very recently, Colin Turnbull was the only anthropologist who had lived and studied with both the Mbuti people of the Congo region and the Ik of Uganda. Because of his writings, one community became known for its egalitarianism and the other for its selfishness. His observations of the Ik in particular, as “inhuman” and “inhospitable,” led to…
 
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 t…
 
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 S…
 
How do language, biology, and culture shape an individual’s experience of color? A journalist investigates the anthropological debate about whether color is a human universal. 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, SAPIEN…
 
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. Sabine Hyland is a prof…
 
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 cultur…
 
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. Pearson is a p…
 
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? In this episode, we pose this question to scienc…
 
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 tweet…
 
Hello fellow sapiens! We’re coming back with new episodes starting on July 30. This season is just a little different, though. SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell are still asking 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... fr…
 
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…
 
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 pre…
 
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 talk…
 
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