race and human diversity a biocultural approach pdf

Race And Human Diversity A Biocultural Approach Pdf

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Exposure to information about genetics is at an all-time high, while a full understanding of the biocultural complexity of human difference is low. As part of this approach, we challenge educators across social and natural sciences to critically examine and dismantle the tacit cultural assumptions that shape our understanding of genetics and inform the way we perceive and teach about human differences. Numerous opportunities to transform our teaching exist, and we are doing a disservice to our students by not taking these critical steps. Complex topics such as epigenetics see, e. Three factors potentially contribute to these misconceptions: 1 public exposure to misleading messages about genetic concepts, 2 the compartmentalization of knowledge within the academy obfuscates the exchange of strategies for tackling such misconceptions among disciplines, and 3 an overall lack of attention to such topics in the classroom.

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A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical phenotypical traits. Modern science regards race as a social construct , an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society.

Social conceptions and groupings of races have varied over time, often involving folk taxonomies that define essential types of individuals based on perceived traits. Even though there is a broad scientific agreement that essentialist and typological conceptions of race are untenable, [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] scientists around the world continue to conceptualize race in widely differing ways.

Since the second half of the 20th century, the association of race with the discredited theories of scientific racism has contributed to race becoming increasingly seen as a largely pseudoscientific system of classification. Although still used in general contexts, race has often been replaced by less ambiguous and loaded terms: populations , people s , ethnic groups , or communities , depending on context.

Modern scholarship views racial categories as socially constructed , that is, race is not intrinsic to human beings but rather an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to establish meaning in a social context.

Different cultures define different racial groups, often focused on the largest groups of social relevance, and these definitions can change over time. The establishment of racial boundaries often involves the subjugation of groups defined as racially inferior, as in the one-drop rule used in the 19th-century United States to exclude those with any amount of African ancestry from the dominant racial grouping, defined as " white ".

According to geneticist David Reich , "while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today's racial constructs are real. Although commonalities in physical traits such as facial features, skin color, and hair texture comprise part of the race concept, this linkage is a social distinction rather than an inherently biological one.

For instance, African-American English is a language spoken by many African Americans , especially in areas of the United States where racial segregation exists. Furthermore, people often self-identify as members of a race for political reasons. When people define and talk about a particular conception of race, they create a social reality through which social categorization is achieved. Socioeconomic factors, in combination with early but enduring views of race, have led to considerable suffering within disadvantaged racial groups.

In some countries, law enforcement uses race to profile suspects. This use of racial categories is frequently criticized for perpetuating an outmoded understanding of human biological variation, and promoting stereotypes.

Because in some societies racial groupings correspond closely with patterns of social stratification , for social scientists studying social inequality, race can be a significant variable. As sociological factors, racial categories may in part reflect subjective attributions, self-identities , and social institutions. Scholars continue to debate the degrees to which racial categories are biologically warranted and socially constructed. In the social sciences, theoretical frameworks such as racial formation theory and critical race theory investigate implications of race as social construction by exploring how the images, ideas and assumptions of race are expressed in everyday life.

A large body of scholarship has traced the relationships between the historical, social production of race in legal and criminal language, and their effects on the policing and disproportionate incarceration of certain groups. Groups of humans have always identified themselves as distinct from neighboring groups, but such differences have not always been understood to be natural, immutable and global.

These features are the distinguishing features of how the concept of race is used today. In this way the idea of race as we understand it today came about during the historical process of exploration and conquest which brought Europeans into contact with groups from different continents, and of the ideology of classification and typology found in the natural sciences.

The modern concept of race emerged as a product of the colonial enterprises of European powers from the 16th to 18th centuries which identified race in terms of skin color and physical differences. This way of classification would have been confusing for people in the ancient world since they did not categorize each other in such a fashion.

According to Smedley and Marks the European concept of "race", along with many of the ideas now associated with the term, arose at the time of the scientific revolution , which introduced and privileged the study of natural kinds , and the age of European imperialism and colonization which established political relations between Europeans and peoples with distinct cultural and political traditions.

The rise of the Atlantic slave trade , which gradually displaced an earlier trade in slaves from throughout the world, created a further incentive to categorize human groups in order to justify the subordination of African slaves.

A set of folk beliefs took hold that linked inherited physical differences between groups to inherited intellectual , behavioral , and moral qualities. Brutal conflicts between ethnic groups have existed throughout history and across the world. But the scientific classification of phenotypic variation was frequently coupled with racist ideas about innate predispositions of different groups, always attributing the most desirable features to the White, European race and arranging the other races along a continuum of progressively undesirable attributes.

The classification of Carl Linnaeus , inventor of zoological taxonomy, divided the human species Homo sapiens into continental varieties of europaeus , asiaticus , americanus , and afer , each associated with a different humour : sanguine , melancholic , choleric , and phlegmatic , respectively. The treatise "The Natural Varieties of Mankind", by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach proposed five major divisions: the Caucasoid race , the Mongoloid race , the Ethiopian race later termed Negroid , the American Indian race , and the Malayan race , but he did not propose any hierarchy among the races.

From the 17th through 19th centuries, the merging of folk beliefs about group differences with scientific explanations of those differences produced what Smedley has called an " ideology of race". It was further argued that some groups may be the result of mixture between formerly distinct populations, but that careful study could distinguish the ancestral races that had combined to produce admixed groups. He saw Africans as inferior to Whites especially in regards to their intellect, and imbued with unnatural sexual appetites, but described Native Americans as equals to whites.

In the last two decades of the 18th century, the theory of polygenism , the belief that different races had evolved separately in each continent and shared no common ancestor, [60] was advocated in England by historian Edward Long and anatomist Charles White , in Germany by ethnographers Christoph Meiners and Georg Forster , and in France by Julien-Joseph Virey.

Polygenism was popular and most widespread in the 19th century, culminating in the founding of the Anthropological Society of London , which, during the period of the American Civil War, broke away from the Ethnological Society of London and its monogenic stance , their underlined difference lying, relevantly, in the so-called "Negro question": a substantial racist view by the former, [61] and a more liberal view on race by the latter.

Today, all humans are classified as belonging to the species Homo sapiens. However, this is not the first species of homininae : the first species of genus Homo , Homo habilis , evolved in East Africa at least 2 million years ago, and members of this species populated different parts of Africa in a relatively short time. Homo erectus evolved more than 1. Virtually all physical anthropologists agree that Archaic Homo sapiens A group including the possible species H.

In the early 20th century, many anthropologists taught that race was an entirely biological phenomenon and that this was core to a person's behavior and identity, a position commonly called racial essentialism. The first to challenge the concept of race on empirical grounds were the anthropologists Franz Boas , who provided evidence of phenotypic plasticity due to environmental factors, [70] and Ashley Montagu , who relied on evidence from genetics.

Wilson then challenged the concept from the perspective of general animal systematics, and further rejected the claim that "races" were equivalent to "subspecies". Human genetic variation is predominantly within races, continuous, and complex in structure, which is inconsistent with the concept of genetic human races.

The term race in biology is used with caution because it can be ambiguous. Generally, when it is used it is effectively a synonym of subspecies. Traditionally, subspecies are seen as geographically isolated and genetically differentiated populations. In , Sewall Wright suggested that human populations that have long inhabited separated parts of the world should, in general, be considered different subspecies by the criterion that most individuals of such populations can be allocated correctly by inspection.

In , philosopher Robin Andreasen proposed that cladistics might be used to categorize human races biologically, and that races can be both biologically real and socially constructed. Biological anthropologist Jonathan Marks responded by arguing that Andreasen had misinterpreted the genetic literature: "These trees are phenetic based on similarity , rather than cladistic based on monophyletic descent, that is from a series of unique ancestors.

Previously, anthropologists Lieberman and Jackson had also critiqued the use of cladistics to support concepts of race. They argued that "the molecular and biochemical proponents of this model explicitly use racial categories in their initial grouping of samples ".

For example, the large and highly diverse macroethnic groups of East Indians, North Africans, and Europeans are presumptively grouped as Caucasians prior to the analysis of their DNA variation. They argued that this a priori grouping limits and skews interpretations, obscures other lineage relationships, deemphasizes the impact of more immediate clinal environmental factors on genomic diversity, and can cloud our understanding of the true patterns of affinity.

In , Keith Hunley, Graciela Cabana, and Jeffrey Long analyzed the Human Genome Diversity Project sample of 1, individuals in 52 populations, [85] finding that non-African populations are a taxonomic subgroup of African populations, that "some African populations are equally related to other African populations and to non-African populations," and that "outside of Africa, regional groupings of populations are nested inside one another, and many of them are not monophyletic.

One crucial innovation in reconceptualizing genotypic and phenotypic variation was the anthropologist C. Loring Brace 's observation that such variations, insofar as it is affected by natural selection , slow migration, or genetic drift , are distributed along geographic gradations or clines.

To this day, skin color grades by imperceptible means from Europe southward around the eastern end of the Mediterranean and up the Nile into Africa. From one end of this range to the other, there is no hint of a skin color boundary, and yet the spectrum runs from the lightest in the world at the northern edge to as dark as it is possible for humans to be at the equator.

In part this is due to isolation by distance. This point called attention to a problem common to phenotype-based descriptions of races for example, those based on hair texture and skin color : they ignore a host of other similarities and differences for example, blood type that do not correlate highly with the markers for race. Thus, anthropologist Frank Livingstone's conclusion, that since clines cross racial boundaries, "there are no races, only clines".

In a response to Livingstone, Theodore Dobzhansky argued that when talking about race one must be attentive to how the term is being used: "I agree with Dr.

Livingstone that if races have to be 'discrete units', then there are no races, and if 'race' is used as an 'explanation' of the human variability, rather than vice versa, then the explanation is invalid. The former refers to any distinction in gene frequencies between populations; the latter is "a matter of judgment". He further observed that even when there is clinal variation, "Race differences are objectively ascertainable biological phenomena They differ on whether the race concept remains a meaningful and useful social convention.

Patterns such as those seen in human physical and genetic variation as described above, have led to the consequence that the number and geographic location of any described races is highly dependent on the importance attributed to, and quantity of, the traits considered.

Scientists discovered a skin-lighting mutation that partially accounts for the appearance of Light skin in humans people who migrated out of Africa northward into what is now Europe which they estimate occurred 20, to 50, years ago.

The East Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. Anthropologists long ago discovered that humans' physical traits vary gradually, with groups that are close geographic neighbors being more similar than groups that are geographically separated. This pattern of variation, known as clinal variation, is also observed for many alleles that vary from one human group to another. Another observation is that traits or alleles that vary from one group to another do not vary at the same rate.

This pattern is referred to as nonconcordant variation. Because the variation of physical traits is clinal and nonconcordant, anthropologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries discovered that the more traits and the more human groups they measured, the fewer discrete differences they observed among races and the more categories they had to create to classify human beings.

The number of races observed expanded to the s and s, and eventually anthropologists concluded that there were no discrete races. Nature has not created four or five distinct, nonoverlapping genetic groups of people.

Another way to look at differences between populations is to measure genetic differences rather than physical differences between groups. The midth-century anthropologist William C.

Boyd defined race as: "A population which differs significantly from other populations in regard to the frequency of one or more of the genes it possesses. It is an arbitrary matter which, and how many, gene loci we choose to consider as a significant 'constellation'". Some biologists argue that racial categories correlate with biological traits e.

The distribution of genetic variants within and among human populations are impossible to describe succinctly because of the difficulty of defining a population, the clinal nature of variation, and heterogeneity across the genome Long and Kittles A study of random biallelic genetic loci found little to no evidence that humans were divided into distinct biological groups.

Edwards argued that rather than using a locus-by-locus analysis of variation to derive taxonomy, it is possible to construct a human classification system based on characteristic genetic patterns, or clusters inferred from multilocus genetic data. Does that mean we should throw it out? Any category you come up with is going to be imperfect, but that doesn't preclude you from using it or the fact that it has utility.

Early human genetic cluster analysis studies were conducted with samples taken from ancestral population groups living at extreme geographic distances from each other. It was thought that such large geographic distances would maximize the genetic variation between the groups sampled in the analysis, and thus maximize the probability of finding cluster patterns unique to each group. In light of the historically recent acceleration of human migration and correspondingly, human gene flow on a global scale, further studies were conducted to judge the degree to which genetic cluster analysis can pattern ancestrally identified groups as well as geographically separated groups.

Witherspoon et al. They found that many thousands of genetic markers had to be used in order for the answer to the question "How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations? This assumed three population groups separated by large geographic ranges European, African and East Asian. The entire world population is much more complex and studying an increasing number of groups would require an increasing number of markers for the same answer.

The authors conclude that "caution should be used when using geographic or genetic ancestry to make inferences about individual phenotypes.

Race (human categorization)

Race and Human Diversity is an introduction to the study of Human Diversity in both its biological and cultural dimensions. This text examines the biological basis of human difference and how humans have biologically and culturally adapted to life in different environments. It critiques the notion that humans can or should be classified into a number of "biological races". Coverage includes discussion of the following topics: Biological background of human variation History of racial classification A critique of the Race Concept Ethnic disease: How race affects morbidity and morality Adaptive dimensions of human variability: Life in the tropics, the arctic, and high altitude Physiology of skin color A critical history of attempts to link race and intelligence Race as a cultural construct. Find in your library. Advanced Search. Privacy Copyright.

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Race and Human Diversity is an introduction to the study of Human Diversity in both its biological and cultural dimensions. This text examines the biological basis of human difference and how humans have biologically and culturally adapted to lifeMoreRace and Human Diversity is an introduction to the study of Human Diversity in both its biological and cultural dimensions. This text examines the biological basis of human difference and how humans have biologically and culturally adapted to life in different environments.

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