The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Incredible human journey

As Monty Python might say, "And now, for something completely different": testing out the new events list

One of the joys of being a qualitative researcher is the fact that you are continuously learning about new markets and new ideas. So when I received AQR's new events list I thought here is another way to learn about something new and to go to an evening that is totally different.

I was immediately interested in the upcoming talk by Dr Alice Roberts. Alice is a qualified medical doctor and lecturer in Anatomy at Bristol University, a regular contributor to Channel 4"s Time Team and BBC2"s Coast series, and the presenter of Don't Die Young on BBC2.

The talk was billed as the "Incredible Human Journey", based on the title of her BBC series and recent book, which she wrote and illustrated. A free event at UCL and a glass of wine afterwards! This would definitely make a change from running groups on garden products.

The evening lived up to all my expectations. Here we were sitting in a lecture theatre being a student again, what nostalgia, but what a speaker. I know Alice from her television appearances and she has always come across as a wonderful polymath who is erudite but accessible. She is just like that in real life — if only all my lecturers had been that good.

Her talk about the way that humans have spread out of Africa and the use of microcondial DNA to map that spread was fascinating. Her delivery, without a single note, was totally absorbing and meant that even a non-scientist like me could easily understand all the biological and evolutionary theories. Inevitably the talk covered ground that had been covered in the television series — but who remembers everything from a series of programmes?

More to the point, she added anecdotes and tales that brought the making of the series to life. She ran through the evidence for theories about our common ancestors. She touched on what happened to other branches of the human family. She took us across a landscape of paleontological research that I would not have expected to find fascinating. Finally she answered questions with a fluency that gave evidence for her wide-ranging knowledge.

We're all alike

Perhaps one of the most inspiring conclusions is that, given that we all come from one single evolutionary branch of the human family, there is absolutely no basis for any kind of racist thought, we are all the same.

The evening ended with the glass of wine and a private view of the very small and quirky UCL Grants Zoology museum. I also had the opportunity for a short chat with our speaker about the essence of being human. So overall a very stimulating and enjoyable evening. Thank you, AQR, for this latest initiative. I'd also like to encourage everyone to have a look at the events list, pick out something that interests you and is different and go. I can guarantee you that it'll be worth it.

 

Sally Ford-Hutchinson
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