Brooke Penaloza-Patzak gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Wednesday, November 17, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Objects as Data: Ancient Migration and Beringian Collections in and between the Natural and Human Sciences.”

At its narrowest point, the Bering Strait separates Asia and North America by just eighty-five kilometers. The name for this region, joined by the mammoth steppe up until the end of the Last Glacial Maxim, is Beringia. During the mid-nineteenth century, the proximity of these continents and new archeological findings galvanized new scientific speculation that humankind had populated the “New World” via the Bering Strait. Proponents of the Beringia migration theory hypothesized that comparative analysis of objects collected from either side of the Strait would help elucidate the relationship between the old and new worlds, and the course of human diffusion and nature of human affinity more generally. Situated at the intersections of scientific practice, material culture studies, economics, and geopolitics, this talk uses the history of scientific collection in Beringia as a lens through which to explore the problem of objects as scientific data in theory and practice.

Historian Brooke Penaloza-Patzak investigates how the interplay of scientists and the materials they use as data has shaped scientific networks, disciplinary formation, and practice in and between the natural and human sciences during the 19th and 20th centuries. She received her PhD from the University of Vienna, Department of History, and is currently an FWF Erwin Schrödinger Fellow and Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of the History and Sociology of Science.