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Genetics, the Archaeology of Ethnicity, and Nationhood

The Long History of Ethnicity and Nationhood, podcast 1: Genetics, the Archaeology of Ethnicity, and Nationhood.

In this first podcast produced by the Long History of Identity, Ethnicity and Nationhood Research Network, co-convener Nicholas Matheou talks to Florin Curta on the topic of ‘Genetics, the Archaeology of Ethnicity, and Nationhood.’ Florin is professor of Medieval History & Archaeology at the University of Florida, and has published widely on the Balkans, Slavic identities, the early and central medieval steppe world, as well as theoretical approaches to the archaeology of ethnicity. Here he discusses how new genetic and biological approaches are creating new possibilities and avenues for research, what the most useful of these approaches might be, and their methodological pitfalls. In a wide-ranging conversation, encompassing DNA studies, isotope analysis, and the instrumentalisation of research by various movements, Florin outlines a broad and nuanced perspective on the many approaches to, and uses of genetics and archaeology in the construction of ethnicity and nationhood.

Links and Further Reading

Florin Curta at the University of Florida; and on

Patrick Geary, Using Genetic Data to Revolutionalize Understanding of Migration History.

Patrick Geary, Rethinking Barbarian Invasions through Genomic History.

Jim Davidson’s excavations at the Kingsley Plantation are presented briefly here and in news reports here and here.


Joachim Wahl and Theron Douglas Price, ‘Local and foreign males in a Late Bronze Age at Neckarsulm, southwestern Germany: strontium isotope investigations’, Anthropologischer Anzeiger, 70 (2013), pp. 298-307. 

Scott G. Ortman, Winds from the North. Tewa Origins and Historical Anthropology (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2012).

Lori E. Wright, ‘Immigration to Tikal, Guatemala: evidence from stable strontium and oxygen istotopes’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 31 (2012), pp. 334-52.

Christopher M. Stojanowski, Bioarchaeology of Ethnogenesis in the Colonial Southeast (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010).

Ben J. Shaw, Glenn R. Summerhays, Hallie R. Buckley, and Joel A. Baker, ‘The use of strontium isotopes as an indicator of migration in human and pig: Lapita populations in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 36 (2009), pp. 1079-91.

Robert Carter, ‘Genes, genomes, and genealogies: the return of scientific racism?’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30 (2007), pp. 546-56.

Laurie A. Wilkie and Paul Farnsworth, Sampling Many Pots. A Historical Archaeology of a Multi-Ethnic Bahamian Community (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005).

Sebastian Brather, Ethnische Interpretationen in der frühgeschichtlichen Archäologie. Geschichte, Grundlagen und Alternativen (Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, 42) (Berlin/New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2004).

Paul E. Brodwin, ‘Genetics, identity, and the anthropology of essentialism’, Anthropological Quarterly, 75 (2002), pp. 323-30.

Bob Simpson, ‘Imagined genetic communities: ethnicity and essentialism in the twenty-first century’, Anthropology Today, 16 (2000), pp. 3-6.

Patrick Sims-Williams, ‘Genetics, linguistics, and prehistory: thinking big and thinking straight, Antiquity, 72 (1998), pp. 505–27.