Workshop: New Results and Methods in Reconstructing Population History

This workshop brings together scholars working on population history from the disciplines of linguistics, genetics, geography, and anthropology. Researchers will share novel methods and results and discuss the future of the field. Attendance is open to UZH researchers and students alike.

Time frame: Monday, January 30 to Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The workshop will take place from Monday 30th of January to Wednesday 1st of February 2023 at the main campus of the University of Zurich

Location: University of Zurich, Main Campus

RAA-G-01 Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland


If you are interested in attending the workshop, please register here.

Workshop program


Monday, 30th January 2023


Session 1: Introduction

08:30    Late registration
09:00 Welcome and introduction (organizers)


Out of Asia: Linguistic Diversity and Population History (Paul Widmer, UZH)
09:50 Disentangling the complex history of the Polynesian Outliers (Mary Walworth, MPI)
10:30 Skeletal morphology and reconstructing population history (Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou and Hannes Rathman, Tübingen)
11:15 Discussion 1, What can we learn from each other?

Lunch break



Session 2: Population history and genetics

13:30 A matter of scale: from continental to local studies on the genetic history of human populations, a perspective from Northwestern Amazonia (Leonardo Arias Alvis, MPI)


The genetic history of the southern Andes from present-day Mapuche ancestry (Epifanía Arango, UZH)
14:30 Genetic and linguistic diversity: language families and isolates (Chiara Barbieri, UZH)


15:30 Reconstructing human history with palaeogenomics and demographic inferences (Nina Marchi, Bern)

Examining the farming/language dispersal hypothesis with Dravidian and finger millet (Masaomi Hatakeyama, UZH)

16:30 Discussion 2 (chairs: Chiara Barbieri, Epifanía Arango)


Tuesday, 31th January 2023


Session 3: Population history and space


Cultural macroevolution in South America and beyond: of domestic dogs, blowguns and cranial modifications (Marcelo Sanchez, UZH)
09:30 Spatial distributions and processes in historical linguistics in an interdisciplinary perspective (Matthias Urban, Tübingen)


10:30 From sBayes for linguists to generalized sBayes (Peter Ranacher, UZH)
11:00 A global search for linguistic areas using sBayes (Anna Graff, UZH)
11:30 Discussion 3 (chairs: Peter Ranacher, Nico Neureiter)


Lunch break


Session 4: Population history and language


Developing Bayesian language phylogenies from previously published data (Kellen Parker van Dam, UZH)
14:00 Ecological and Socio-Cultural Constraints on Linguistic Diversification: New Insights From the Bantu Expansion (Ezequiel Koile, MPI)
14:30 The spread of Uralic language languages: vertical evolution and areal contacts (Outi Vesakoski and Meeli Roose, Turku)
15:00 Break

Modelling contact in phylogenetic trees of languages (Nico Neureiter, UZH)

16:00 An introduction to ATLAs: Designing a database for language contact (David Inman, UZH)
16:30 Linguistic traces of an Arawakan footprint in the northwest Amazon (Pattie Epps, UT Austin)
17:00 Discussion 4 (chairs: David Inman, Marine Vuillermet)
  Announcement of breakout sessions

Workshop dinner for invited guests


Wednesday, 1st February 2023


Session 5: Conclusion


Break-out sessions (topics depending on interest and emergent themes)

  • Break-out A: disentangling vertical and horizontal evolution
  • Break-out B: statistics and modeling
10:30 Discussion 5, Break-out reports, wrap-up, and where to next? (organizers)
12:00 End of the workshop

The book of abstracts can be downloaded here