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Emerging Adolescence: A Virtual Workshop

Anthropology researchers are hosting a virtual workshop to study adolescence

Emerging Adolescence: A Virtual Workshop will explore ways that researchers can learn more about adolescence, and how this work can enhance the way anthropologists understand the past.

Oct 28, 2021


McMaster bioarchaeologistswho study humans from archaeological contexts, are hoping to learn more about an age-old mystery: adolescence. 

Specifically, they’re hoping to better understand the physical and social changes that occur during this tumultuous period of life. They’re interested in learning about puberty, which clinical research suggests is starting at younger and younger ages. However, bioarchaeology research suggests that puberty today, and puberty 2000 years ago began around the same time, challenging these ideasResearchers are also interested in learning more about the unique challenges and opportunities that adolescents faced in the past, as they became adults in their communities and took on new roles and responsibilities, and how these changes impacted their health, well-being, and survival in past populations.  

Incorporating greater timescales into analyses will enable researchers to develop new insights about what 'normal' pubertal timing might look like, and how experiences of adolescence varied – or have remained the same – across millennia, says Megan Brickley, Professor of Anthropology at McMaster University and CRC (Tier 1) in Bioarchaeology of Human Disease. “Our aim is to give people a framework to start considering the long-term developments in patterns of health and disease.” 

Brickley and her team were awarded a SSHRC grant this year to create a project event called 'Emerging Adolescence: A Virtual Workshop'. The two-day workshop is the first virtual event to place developments related to adolescence in bioarchaeology at the centre of wider developments started by anthropologists working across the social sciences and allied areas. 

Scheduled events are: 

Day 1: New Approaches to Past Discoveries (1 November 2021, 11am-1pm EST) will feature a keynote address by Professor Mary Lewis (University of Reading, UK), and presentations focusing on the importance and development of reliable methodology to study adolescence, including skeletal sex-estimation methods in sub-adult skeletal remains, patterns of growth and development, and the timing of puberty in the past. 

Day 2: Lived Experiences of Adolescents (2 November 2021, 11am-1pm EST) will include presentations combining diverse lines of evidence to better understand adolescent experiences through space and timefrom the Roman Empire to 18th century Canada. The day will conclude with a keynote address by Professor Sharon DeWitte (University of South Carolina, USA). 

The workshop is free to attend, but attendees must register to ensure space for students and emerging scholars, as well as faculty members and members of the public. At the end of each day, there will also be optional opportunities for networking via Gather from 1-3pm EST. 

Register here oremail for more information.