Carl L. Johannessen, Professor Emeritus

102 Condon Hall
1251 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1251

Office Phone: 541-346-4560
Home Phone: 541-342-2235
Fax: 541-346-2067

Photo of Carl Johannessen

Carl L. Johannessen was born in Santa Ana, CA on July 28, 1924. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in Wildlife Conservation and Management in 1950, a MA in Zoology in 1953, and a Ph.D. in Geography in 1959. Dr. Johannessen conducted research in the United States and Latin America until 1985 when he began studying South Asia and China. Dr. Johannessen has interests in physical, cultural, human, and historical geography.

Dr. Johannessen was a faculty member of the Department of Geography at University of Oregon, Eugene for 30 years of regular teaching and then one-third time teaching for five years. During this time, his research discoveries followed the developmental sequence of : 1. Distributions of wild plants as modified by humans. 2. Modifications of plants by people who placed plants and animals in the process of domestication. 3. Utilization of crop plants, like maize, and household animals, like chickens, to demonstrate, by their historical distributions, where and when humans have traveled around the earth's surface. 4. Search for traits associated with these modified plants and animals that are carried as cultural baggage. 5. Search for evidence of the early human origins in the New World. 6. Devotion to the reduction of discrimination against people who are different from the majority in any particular place in our world society.

It is on the basis of these philosophies and the willingness to be considered eccentric, if that is necessary, that Dr. Johannessen has worked, since official retirement, to conduct research on plants and animals that have been so modified by humans that if they are found away from their region of origin, their presence indicates that they have to have been carried across continents and even the oceans by subsequent discoverers and collectors. The significant opposition to the ideas that sailors crossed the world's oceans and traveled long before the Northwestern Europeans set off on discovery has been a blessing. This very rejection has frightened off the competition, who might have gone to Asia searching for data that subsequently Dr. Johannessen was able to find and now work into his book on the subject. This kind of a search is a bit scary. When few cookbooks are available to tell you what to look for, one does have to let one's mind predict what ought to be in the field situation and then go find the answers when one encounters the evidence. That data will seldom be found without field search in regions about which you cannot be expert and in areas with different customs, and languages that provide culture shock when first entering that region. Thanks to the group of innovative cooperators and bibliographers a certain degree of success has been obtained by the group.

As Prof. Herbert Mason used to say, "When your observations do not match your hypotheses, take heart; you are about to learn something new." In China we moved away from the certitude of sculptured stone images of corn ears, sunflowers and annonas as had been found in the temples with statuary from ancient India. We moved into slightly less satisfying kinds of data. Artifacts in linguistics and in archaeology, that some Chinese scholars who, even though they did not directly know about the actualities of the archaeological discoveries, erroneously call the dates and the very findings into question. Forensic science techniques can take over, since we are dealing with temples and tombs, and I presume the answers will allow logical decisions to be made. Dating of a piece of organic tissue with C14 or the thermoluminescence dating of fired clay or the DNA sequencing of genetic material of seeds such as sunflowers, chili peppers, moschata pumpkin, pineapple, guavas, jicama or yam bean, etc. takes me into unknown realms. These latter two scientific experiences are new to me and the need to temporize is frustrating, but essential for the development of a solid base for changing the paradigms in the belief systems of the social sciences as they relate to diffusion and dispersal of cultural traits.

Worse, however, is that these needs begin to require more funding than mine; so I search for funding to get the job completed the way it should be done with the possible assistance from anyone reading this site. Anyone who would like to assist in the aim of educating people to accept people for who and what they are, regardless of color, size, religion, sex, orientation, etc. can do so by contributing a tax deductible gift to the Oregon Foundation, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403, for research by me. That will be much appreciated by me.


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