U.S.-China role reversal
The numbers are clear, Felix Moos says: Up to 98,000 students from mainland China were studying on U.S. campuses a year ago, while only 15,000 U.S. students — “at most” — were likewise hitting the books in the People’s Republic.
“It’s just a tremendous discrepancy working against us,” says Moos, a Kansas University professor of anthropology. “The roles, in my view, have been completely reversed. Americans used to be everywhere. Today it’s the Chinese.”
Moos’ presentation, “I am leaving: Globalization, conflict and Asian migration to the Americas,” is set for 9:30 a.m. today in The Commons at Spooner Hall on KU’s main campus. The public is invited.
Conventional wisdom says the first humans made their way into the Americas some 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, in a single mass migration from Africa to Asia to an area that now includes North America.
Eske Willerslev doesn’t buy it.
The evolutionary geneticist bases this on his work of the past eight years, DNA research indicating that a new, “independent” migration of humans occurred in Greenland much more recently: about 5,500 years ago.
Following his logic, there’s reason to think other humans may have migrated into North and South Americas from other places, during other times, and with other purposes.
“Are we to believe that people went in one time and that’s it?” said Willerslev, of the Centre of Excellence in GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, after a presentation Monday at KU. “It’s probably much more complex than that, and that’s likely true for the Americas.”
Willerslev is among experts from two dozen institutions in 10 countries to offer theories, evidence and outlooks regarding the movements of peoples during the first International Conference on Human Migration, which lasts through Wednesday in The Commons at Spooner Hall.
The conference is the first of its kind to compile an interdisciplinary approach to migration, said Michael Crawford, a Kansas University professor of anthropology and the conference’s organizer.
Psychologists, biologists, anthropologists and others with interests and knowledge about the past 1.8 million years of human migration have an opportunity to compare notes and share resources as they contemplate a future filled with additional migratory issues.
Among them is global warming, Crawford said, and how Bangladesh, portions of Florida and other lands someday will be underwater, forcing their inhabitants to shift their existences elsewhere.
“We don’t want to repeat past mistakes that we made as humans,” he said. “Hopefully, we learn from our past.”
Willerslev, whose research with collaborators was published in the journal Nature, applauded KU for convening the conference. He’s already connected with colleagues who could offer additional samples for DNA testing.
“We hope we can work with you guys in the future,” he said to about 50 colleagues listening to his presentation Monday.