Violence & War in Human History

For January 13, 2021       
Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors. 
If you’ve already registered for a previous WN@TL this fall, you’re good—you don’t have to register again.
If you’ll be watching for the first time this week, please register for the WN@TL Zoom at 
By Zoom only, beginning at 7:00pm Central.
If you would like to join the weekly email missives, please send an email to
Hi WN@TL Fans,
What a week.  After the coup attempt last Wednesday, and before the Congress could even re-convene at the ransacked Capitol to finish their Constitutional duty to count the electoral votes, Pat Remington opened his January 6 WN@TL talk on “Covid-19:  The Pandemic, Public Health, and Politics” noting the concurrences and connections between the pandemic and the violence on Capitol Hall.
Through an unintended coincidence, this week our topics are violence and war and their origins in human history.  In the most peaceable times, the topics would be intriguing, the methods of empirical exploration would be ingenious, the insights would be profound.
But in these times—unique in my experience—the current crisis makes Watergate look like a walk in a Dells waterpark.
Thus, this week I’m looking forward to Prof Nam Kim’s talk on January 13 entitled “Plumbing Nebulous Depths: Violence and Warfare in Humanity’s Past.” I’m anticipating we’ll get a look back through the centuries and the millennia, to examine societies, cultures and civilizations far from those centered on capitals on the Tiber, the Thames, or the Potomac.
Professor Nam Kim
Department of Anthropology
Description:  Are we an inherently violent species? Has “warfare” always existed for humanity? This lecture highlights anthropological research regarding the antiquity and earliest cultural expressions of organized violence. It highlights various methods used by researchers to identify and consider practices related to violence and warfare in the remote past, and how such behaviors may have been profoundly tied to both biological and cultural changes in human history. The lecture also considers how anthropological evidence has been presented to the general public and the implications of such findings in shaping our views about human nature and prospects for peace.
Bio:  I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in sociopolitical complexity, early forms of cities, factors associated with significant cultural change, and the relationship between modern politics, cultural heritage, and the material record. I am  especially interested in the cultural contexts and social consequences of organized violence and warfare, as manifested in various cultural, spatial and temporal settings. Much of my recent research has been geographically focused on East and Southeast Asia, and since 2005 I have been conducting archaeological fieldwork in Vietnam at the Co Loa settlement in the Red River Delta. A heavily fortified site located near modern-day Hanoi, Co Loa is purportedly connected to Vietnamese legendary accounts and is thus viewed by many as integral to the genesis of Vietnamese civilization. Aside from its historical and national significance, the case of Co Loa is salient for archaeological theory as it constitutes one of the earliest cases for both state formation and urbanism in Southeast Asia.

Legendary Cổ Loa: Vietnam’s Ancient Capital (2020). Interview with Tristan Hughes, part of History Hit TV’s podcast series The Ancients

On January 20 Claudia Solis-Lemus of Plant Pathology and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery presents on “Through the Looking-Glass of Data Science.”
Description:  Big data is creating a big splash. In 2020 we expect 2.7 million job openings in Data Science in the US alone — 10 times more than public health, another fast-growing field. But what exactly is Data Science? In this talk, I will describe my research as a statistician in a Plant Pathology department, and how Data Science is revolutionizing the way we study plants and microbes. Statistics exploits the power of big data, redefining the way in which we do science by allowing us to spark discovery out of the massive amounts of data that are being collected in every scientific field. I will describe specific examples related to soil and plant microbiome, and illustrate how the general applicability of statistical tools can help translate methodologies that we use in plants to human research, in particular, to gut and lung microbiome.

Bio:  I grew up in Mexico City, where I did my undergraduate work at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico in Actuarial Sciences and Applied Mathematics. I did my Ph.D. in Statistics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and then a postdoc here as well in the Department of Botany. After that, I did a postdoc at Emory University in the Department of Human Genetics. Now, I am an assistant professor jointly affiliated with the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Department of Plant Pathology.

On January 27, Sean Carroll will zoom to us from Maryland where he serves as Vice President for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  He’ll be speaking on topics covered in his latest book, “A Series of Fortunate Events:  Chance, the Making of the Planet, Life, and You.”
Sean Carroll is also professor emeritus in the Laboratory of Genetics at UW-Madison.
Happy News:  Prof Kerri Coon, who last week had to postpone her talk on the Microbiome of Mosquitoes, is rescheduled to talk on March 10.  I’m delighted that she can share her insights, and I remain grateful to Pat Remington for pinch-hitting last week.  What an exquisite at-bat it was.
In the meantime, we’re in a for a searing and revealing week or two, or maybe month or two, or maybe …
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H