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Vachon Flora

PhD student in sociology, Université Paris Cité

Contact: flora.vachon(at)

Dissertation title: The production of knowledge about the human species: paleoanthropology and paleogenetics

Dissertation under the direction of Catherine Bourgain and Claude-Olivier Doron (Sphere)

In the 1980s, an emerging discipline brought to the evolutionary sciences a new approach to the problem of the evolutionary history of species: palaeogenetics. This discipline consists of analysing ancient DNA sequences reconstructed from DNA fragments found on fossils, using analytical methods developed since the beginning of the 20th century by another discipline, population genetics. Paleogenetics will upset our understanding of the evolutionary history of living species, and of human evolution in particular. The question of the boundaries between human and non-human groups has been removed: genetic links have been added to morphological criteria. This discipline, accompanied in the 2000s by paleogenomics (the study of ancient genomes), is challenging the knowledge produced by the disciplines of paleontology and modern genetics.

This PhD project aims to characterise the ways in which approaches from ancient DNA disciplines are integrated into the development of knowledge about the evolutionary histories of species, particularly humans. I am interested in the techno-scientific conditions of production of the ancient DNA object and the consequences of the deployment of knowledge produced in paleogenetics on the debates taking place in archaeology in particular. This study is based on an anthropo-historical approach, combining archive work and laboratory anthropology.

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