Theodore Schurr

Wolf Humanities Center Faculty Fellow

20212022 Forum on Migration

Theodore Schurr

Professor of Anthropology

Theodore Schurr is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, a Consulting Curator in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, and the Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at Penn. For the past thirty years, he has investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variation. Current projects include studies of genetic diversity in indigenous populations of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. His research group is also exploring the population histories of Georgia (Caucasus), Pakistan and Kazakhstan through collaborative studies in those countries. Other projects are investigating mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diseases in human populations, and the role of the mtDNA in complex diseases, metabolism and adaptation.

Stories of Ancestry, Inheritance & Belonging

For this project, I will draw upon three decades of genetic research into the origins and ancestry of various human populations to develop a book that explores questions that this kind of research raises, both from the standpoint of the researcher and participants and communities involved in these DNA studies. The stories to be developed will come from research conducted with communities in the Americas, Georgia, Russia and Turkey, among other places. In addition to elaborating human ancestry and migration in deep time, these stories will examine issues such as the African diaspora, settler colonialism, indigenous rights, nationalism, and identity politics that are of contemporary relevance. Thus, the proposed book will be of potential interest to scholars from a number of disciplinary backgrounds.