Call for fellow panelists, Ethnohistory 2020

Katherine Osburn's picture

Greetings! The 2020 Ethnohistory CFP suggested that individual paper-proposal authors should solicit collaborators for panels on relevant H-Net networks, so here I am.


I am interested in writing a paper in response to recent literature on Athabaskan ethnogenesis, which addresses the central claims of a very influential 1991 paper in the journal Ethnohistory: Moodie, D. Wayne, et al. “Northern Athapaskan Oral Traditions and the White River Volcano.” Ethnohistory, vol. 39, no. 2, 1992, pp. 148–171. JSTOR, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020. My own work on Athabaskan oral traditions suggests that Siberian-derived hot-forge copper metallurgy (rather than volcanism) is the basis for the traditions cited by Moodie et al. The White River volcanic event serves merely as a terminus post guem (a coinciding archaeological horizon) helpful to date the mass migration, rather than an impetus for said migration. My work shows that the cultural patterns which define the Athabaskan expansion do not originate from the ashfall zone. The Yukon-Alaska borderland urheimat was a speculative 1981 proposal (by linguists Michael Krauss and Victor Golla) as the epicenter for the Athabaskan migrations, primarily as a "rescuing device" to account for the lack of Yupik loanwords in the prima facie west Alaskan homeland. Other cultural historical explanations are evident today.


In my humble opinion, scholars need to question many timeworn assumptions about late prehistoric demography of the far northwest, and adopt a new world historical paradigm for Pacific Rim culture history. Are there any scholars thinking about other proposals for the Durham Ethnohistory conference which could form a panel with my own? Thank you kindly in advance! Joseph A.P. Wilson, (  Worcester State University / Fairfield University / Sacred Heart University


I would like to add a note of clarification. To potential respondents, please do not feel limited by the "Siberia/Alaska/Canada" geographic range in my call for collaborators. Of course this panel can include thematically similar topics relevant to a wide variety of regions and time periods and ethnic groups. I should have made that clear in my original post.