Archaeology as a modern science only reached the South Pacific in the wake of World War II. Before then, everyone's understanding of Pacific prehistory was grounded on misleading European ideas about race and alleged racial migrations "out of Asia." Recently, human molecular geneticists have begun to turn their gaze toward Oceania and its inhabitants. The results published so far leave a great deal to be desired--as Regenstein Curator John Terrell surveyed last year in Scientific American. In April 2019, Antony Funnell at the Australian Broadcasting Company interviewed Terrell about the use and misuse of human genetics. In particular, Funnell asked him to explain why he feels it isn't necessarily a wise idea to send off a sample of your spit to a commercial genetics laboratory in hopes of discovering the secrets allegedly hidden in your DNA about your personal ancestry and future prospects for a good, healthy life. Listen to the program here.
The Museum’s photographer, John Weinstein, has completed a photographic survey of uli figures in FM collections. Researcher Jean-Philippe Beaulieu will publish these photos, along with photos of uli figures from other institutions around the world, in a late-2019 book. FM cares for 15 uli figures and the book will contain around 100. We hope that such a broad survey will help other researchers shed new light on the meaning and use of the figures.