- Jan 21, 2008
- Reaction score
- nunya biznezz
PBS"To judge from the discussions at the 1997 AAA presidential panel on race, it is now widely accepted in anthropology that race is a biological myth but that racial discrimination and racism are all too real (C Mukhopadhyay, March 1998, AN, p. 28). This consensus, however, does not yet include many physical anthropologists. Fundamental errors are voiced in recent letters and commentaries in the AN submitted by skeletal biologists who, with other physical anthropologists, lay claim to scientific authority and are key to articulating anthropological perspectives on human diversity. The first error is that the idea of race is confused with the reality of human biological variation. A second error occurs when race as biology is confused with race as sociocultural construct. It's time to go back to basics.
It has been known for decades that racial typology fails to explain human variation, that is, our species does not fit into a small number of fixed, ideal types. We know, for example, that:
* Human variation is generally continuous, with no clear points of demarcation. (It is impossible to reliably say where one race ends and another begins. Groups living close to each other tend to be biologically alike, and so race has an appearance of reality, but this is only geographic similarity.)
* Human variation is highly nonconcordant. One trait infrequently predicts for another. (One can not read deeper meanings into physical cues.)
* There is greater variation within than among purported races. (Knowing an individual's purported race tells us little about the individual.)"
It seems that if race truly has no real meaning in anthropology or biology, the only useful function of the word is to use it in discussing efforts to right the wrongs done by those who do see race as a biological constant.