The Morbid Proclivities and Retrogressive Tendencies in the Offspring of Mulattoes

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2011-04-30 00:14Z by Steven

The Morbid Proclivities and Retrogressive Tendencies in the Offspring of Mulattoes

The Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 20, Number 1 (1893-01-07)
pages 1-2
DOI: 10.1001/jama.1893.02420280009001

W. A. Dixon, M.D.

Read in the Section of Diseases of Children, at the Forty-third Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, held at Detroit, Mich., June 7, 1892.

Observations extending over a period of more than thirty years have thoroughly impressed the conviction upon my mind that the offspring of mulattoes are the subjects of constitutional diseases to a greater degree than are those of unmixed blood, and that when confined strictly to their own class, they scarcely reach the fourth generation in descent, by reason of disease and sterility.

I have often wondered if others have had occasion to notice this feature in mulatto life, or whether the conclusions at which I have arrived are false and unwarranted from being based upon observations confined to a local district, yet rich in examples that go far to establish the view propounded. I believe that there is not much to be found in current medical writings upon the subject. Our locality is on the border between the free and the slave States of fifty years ago and more. It…

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Lest we forget: the children they left behind: the life experience of adults born to black GIs and British women during the Second World War

Posted in Dissertations, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States on 2011-04-28 02:49Z by Steven

Lest we forget: the children they left behind: the life experience of adults born to black GIs and British women during the Second World War

The University of Melbourne
1999
177 pages

Janet Baker

An estimated 22,000 children were born in England during the Second World War as a result of relationships between British women and American GIs. Of these children, around 1,200-1,700 were born to African American servicemen. These figures are estimates only; the actual number of births will never be known.

The research study is based on personal interviews with eleven members of this cohort. The interviews explore their life experience and examines their sense of identity as ex-nuptial children, of mixed-race parentage, who had no contact with and usually little information about their GI fathers. Of the eleven mothers, over half were married with at least one other child at the time of the birth. Nine participants/respondents were raised by their mother or her extended family. Two were institutionalised. At the time of the interviews all of the respondents were either searching for, or had found, their black GI fathers.

This is a qualitative study which aims to bear witness to the lived experience of this cohort and to analyse the meaning individuals gave to their experience. Data collection involved personal interviews with the eleven participants. The data was then subject to a thematic analysis and the major themes and issues identified. Content analysis was undertaken using a constructivist approach.

The interviews are presented as elicited narrative relayed through an interpretive summary. Consistency was maintained by using common questions organised within a loose interview framework. The findings were organised around the major conceptual issues and themes that emerged from the case summaries. Common themes, including resilience, racial identity, self esteem and stress were identified.

The researcher has professional qualifications as a social worker and clinical family therapist. She has ten years experience in the field of adoption, including the transracial placement of Aboriginal and overseas children in Australian families. She is also a member of the researched cohort. Issues arising when the researcher is also a member of the researched cohort are discussed in the methodology.

The experience of this cohort suggests that despite the disadvantages of their birth, they fared better than expected. The majority demonstrated high levels of resilience, successfully developing a sense of identity that incorporated both the black and white aspects of their racial heritage. However, for some this success was only achieved at considerable personal cost, with several participants reporting relatively high levels of stress and/or stress related symptoms, such as anxiety, mental illness and heart disease.

A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work in the School of Social Work, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne

Table of Contents

  • Declaration of Authorship
  • Acknowledgments
  • Some Wartime Quotations
  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Historical Context
      • 1.1.1 Segregation
      • 1.1.2 Tensions Between Black and White Americans
      • 1.1.3 Sex between Black and White
      • 1.1.4 ‘Brown babies’
    • 1.2 Links to Contemporary Welfare Issues
      • 1.2.1 Transracial Child Placement
      • 1.2.2 Rights of Access to Birth Information
    • 1.3 Aims of the Research
  • 2. Research Design and Methodology
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Logic of the Approach
    • 2.3 The participants
    • 2.4 Data Collection
    • 2.5 Analysis and Interpretation of the Data
      • 2.5.1 Analysis
      • 2.5.2 The place of the literature review
    • 2.6 Role of the Researcher
    • 2.7 Validity
    • 2.8 Ethical Issues
      • 2.8.1 Assistance with Searches
  • 3. Review of the Literature
    • 3.1 Introduction
      • 3.1.1 Sexual relationships between black men and white women
      • 3.1.2 Race and illegitimacy as stigma
      • 3.1.3 Identity Formation
      • 3.1.4 Stress, resilience and coping
    • 3.2 Conclusion
  • 4. Findings
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Case studies
      • 4.2.1 Participant 1
      • 4.2.2 Participant 2
      • 4.2.3 Participant 3
      • 4.2.4 Participant 4
      • 4.2.5 Participant 5
      • 4.2.6 Participant 6
    • 4.3 Participant Summaries
  • 5. Summary and Discussion of Findings
    • 5.1 Themes and Issues:
      • 5.1.1 Sex between black and white
      • 5.1.2 Race and Illegitimacy as Stigma
      • 5.1.3 Identity Formation and Children of Mixed-race
      • 5.1.4 Grief and Loss
      • 5.1.5 Stress, Resilience and Coping
      • 5.1.6 Impact of search for birth father on identity formation
    • 5.2 Implications for Social Work Practice
    • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 6. Bibliography
    • Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms
    • Appendix 2: Participant’s Stories (continued)
      • 6.1.1 Participant 7
      • 6.1.2 Participant 8
      • 6.1.3 Participant 9
      • 6.1.4 Participant 10
      • 6.1.5 Participant 11
    • 6.2 Summary
  • Appendix 3: Interview Schedule
  • Appendix 4: Letter to Tracing Services
  • Appendix 5: Letter of Support from TRACE.
  • Appendix 6: Letter of Support From ‘War Babes’ (UK)
  • Appendix 7: Letter to Participants (1)
  • Appendix 8: Letter to Participants (2)
  • Appendix 9: Letter to Participants (3)
  • Appendix 10: Consent to Take Part in Research Project
  • Appendix 11: Letter to Post Adoption Resource Centre
  • Appendix 12: Response from Post Adoption Resource Centre

Introduction

The following study provides an account of the lived experience of the adult children of wartime relationships between British women and African American servicemen during the Second World War. It is a qualitative study that seeks to explore the meaning of that experience and in particular how the research participants see themselves—as black, white or mixed-race.

The exploration of these issues took place in the context of a personal interview with each of eleven respondents, which explored the meaning they gave to their life experience as children of black GI fathers raised with no contact, until they reached middle-age, with their birth fathers or their African American heritage. A particular focus of the interviews was the extent to which this experience impacted on their sense of self-identity as children of mixed British and African American parentage. As all of the participants were searching for, or had found their birth fathers the significance of their search, in terms of its impact on their sense of personal identity, was also explored.

The experience of this cohort can only be clearly understood in the historical context of the Second World War and in particular the impact of the decision by America to send black troops to England. An overview of the major social and historical issues impacting on the life experience of this cohort follows…

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Playful ambiguities: racial and literary hybridity in the novels of Brian Castro

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania on 2011-04-28 01:55Z by Steven

Playful ambiguities: racial and literary hybridity in the novels of Brian Castro

University of Melbourne
Université Toulouse-le Mirail
2010

Marilyne Brun

PhD thesis, Arts – School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne and UniversitĂ© Toulouse-le Mirail.

This thesis studies eight of the nine novels of Brian Castro, a contemporary Australian writer born in Hong Kong in 1950, and focuses on the theme of hybridity in his work. Starting with the observation that many of Castro’s characters are mixed-race, the thesis reflects on his suggestion, in his critical essays, that hybridity is deployed at a literary level in his fiction. It seeks to answer three major questions: how is racial hybridity represented in the novels? Why does Castro use a form of literary hybridity in his fiction? And what connections can be established between racial and literary hybridity in his work? The present study argues that hybridity is a useful concept which can be productively applied to literary studies and is particularly appropriate to discuss Castro’s novels. It focuses on two aspects of his literary practice: his use of hybridity as a literary device and his ambiguous representation of the mixed-race body. It argues that racial and literary hybridity are uniquely complementary in the novels and that Castro’s playful resort to hybridity represents a form of resistance to literary canons, racial categorisation and national politics. In this sense, the thesis not only extends the study of Brian Castro’s novels, it also brings new insights to hybridity theory, thus contributing to postcolonial, literary and critical race studies.

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The strongest reason to recognize multiethnicity…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-04-28 01:48Z by Steven

Perhaps the strongest reason to recognize multiethnicity is that self-definition ought to be encouraged. The individual and collective right of ethnic self-identification has been recognized and exercised by other racial and ethnic advocates as they redefined themselves with new terms like Chicano, Xicano, Latino, Asian American, Black, African American, or Native American. Multiethnic people are similarly looking for a way to turn experiences of alienation, racism, and marginalization into positive experiences of shared cultural identity. Giving an official label to those who identify as multiethnic creates a forum in which to discuss the discrimination and marginalization of those experiences. Recognition is the first step toward securing rights.

Kamaria A. Kruckenberg, “Multi-Hued America: The Case for the Civil Rights Movement’s Embrace of Multiethnic Identity,” The Modern American, Volume 4, Issue 1 (Spring 2008): 8 pages.

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Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Social Science on 2011-04-27 23:42Z by Steven

Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia

Johns Hopkins University Press
1993
432 pages
ISBN-10: 9780801852510; ISBN-13: 978-0801852510

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Drawing on extensive anthropological fieldwork, Peter Wade shows how the concept of “blackness” and discrimination are deeply embedded in different social levels and contexts—from region to neighborhood, and from politics and economics to housing, marriage, music, and personal identity.

Table of Contents

  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • I. Introduction
    • 1. The Racial Order and National Identity
    • 2. The Study of Indians and Blacks in the Racial Order
  • II. Cultural Topography
    • 3. A Sense of Place: The Geography of Culture in Colombia
    • 4. Antioquia
    • 5. The Atlantic Coast
    • 6. The ChocĂł: Rain, Misery, and Blackness
    • 7. Heroes and Politics: QuibdĂł since 1900
    • 8. The ChocĂł: Poverty and Riches
  • III. Chogoanos on the Frontier and the City
    • 9. UnguĂ­a: History and Economy
    • 10. UnguĂ­a: Ethnic Relations
    • 11. MedellĂ­n: Working in the City
    • 12. MedellĂ­n: Living in the City
  • IV. Blackness and Mixedness
    • 13. Images of Blackness: The View from Above
    • 14. Images of Blackness: The View from Below
    • 15. The Black Community and Music
    • 16. Whitening
    • 17. Prestige and Equality, Egotism and Envy
  • Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix A: Tables
  • Appendix B: Figures
  • Appendix C: Transcripts of Responses by ChocĂłanos to Questions about MedellĂ­n
  • References

Illustrations

  • A suburb of QuibdĂł
  • A street band in QuibdĂł
  • A woman mining by hand in the ChocĂł
  • A mechanical gold dredger in the ChocĂł
  • A main street in UnguĂ­a
  • The central square of MedellĂ­n
  • La Iguana, an invasion settlement in MedellĂ­n
  • El Salon Suizo, a bar in central MedellĂ­n

Maps

  • Colombia
  • Colombia: Northern region
  • Colombia: Northwestern region

Introduction

The study of blacks in Colombia, despite the seminal efforts of a few dedicated researchers, is neglected relative to the ethnohistorical and anthropological study of the indian populations. The idea of a “racial democracy” in Colombia is still pervasive, and despite refutations of this myth from academic and popular circles alike, some people of all colors and classes can still be heard to avow the insignificance of race as an issue, especially as far as blacks are concerned.

The reasons for this have, in my view, to do with the complex interweaving of patterns of both discrimination and tolerance, of both blackness or indianness and mestizaje, or race mixture. This interweaving takes place within a project, managed mainly by elites, of nationhood and national identity which holds up an image of Colombia as essentially a mestizo or mixed nation. Blacks and indians can, therefore, although in different ways, be both excluded as nonmestizo and included as potential recruits to mixedncss. Such a racial order, I believe, is not characteristic of Colombia alone, but has echoes in many regions of Latin America. In this book, I examine the coexisting and interdependent dynamics of mestizaje and discrimination in a variety of contexts, at different levels of resolution and in distinct realms of social action.

To talk about “blacks,” “indians,” and “race” in Latin America, or indeed anywhere else, is in itself problematic. It is generally accepted that “races” arc social constructions, categorical identifications based on a discourse about physical appearance or ancestry. This is not a universalizing definition good for all places and times because what is to count as relevant “physical difference” or relevant “ancestry” is far from self-evident. There is apparently the “natural fact” of phenotypical variation from which culture constructs categorical identifications according to social determinations, but positing a nature/culture relation mediated by this “productionist logic” (Haraway 1989, 13) obscures the fact that there is no prediscursive, universal encounter with “nature” or therefore with phenotypical variation. These have always been perceived and understood historically in different ways, through certain lenses, especially those ground in the colonial encounters that have privileged the phenotypical differences characteristic of continental space, rather than those characteristic of, say, “short” and “tall” people. As such, racial categories arc processual in two ways: first, as a result of the changing perceptions of the nature/culture divide that they themselves mediate; second, as a result of the interplay of both claims to and ascriptions of identity, usually made in the context of unequal power relations. The second process is of particular significance in the Latin American context because one feature of a racial order based on race mixture is ambiguity about who is and who is not “black” or “indian.” In the United States, South Africa, and many European countries, although ambiguities do exist, there is more general agreement between claims and ascriptions, and thus more clearly defined categorical boundaries to races, than in Latin American countries such as Colombia. There, the boundaries of the category “black” or “indian” are much disputed and ambiguous, even while clear images of a “typical” black or indian person exist for everyone, including “blacks” and “indians.” In this book, although I will not always enclose the terms “black,” “indian,” or “race” in quotation marks, it should be understood that if by their very nature they are not self-evident categories, this is especially so in the Latin American context.

Ambiguity about blackness or indianness does not, however, mean the insignificance of blacks or indians, or more exactly, of people for whom blackness and indianness is an important aspect of personal and social identity. In this book, my concern is with blackness, and I focus on a region of Colombia, the ChocĂł province of the lowland Pacific littoral, where this is particularly evident. There, blacks form about 80 or 90 percent of the population, and blackness has been and still is a critical feature of regional history and identity. I look at the region’s inhabitants, the Chocoanos, in the heart of this province and also in the two sites of my field work: one right in the north of the ChocĂł, in an area heavily influenced by nonblacks; the other, beyond the ChocĂł, in the city of MedellĂ­n. My aim is to examine the coexistence and codependence of blackness and nonblackness, of discrimination and race mixture in these regional contexts. My contention is that the Chocoano material illuminates the more general nature of the Colombian racial order and Colombian national identity. By the same token, the Colombian material sheds light on other Latin American nations in which discrimination and mestizaje also coexist and in which projects of national identity have also had to deal, albeit in different ways, with a past and a present of racial heterogeneity.

Blacks are present and blackness is an issue in other areas of Colombia besides the Choco: the whole southern Pacific littoral is, if anything, blacker than the ChocĂł; the areas around Cali and Cartago have significant black populations; the Caribbean coastal region has concentrations of blacks in various areas, and more generally has a heavily negroid population; there are pockets of blacks, often migrants, in most cities, including Bogota. I do not pretend to cover all these different contexts, some of which have already been studied (see, for example, the works by Whitten, Friedemann, and Taussig listed in the References), but I do introduce two other Colombian regions into the picture, although neither is my principal focus. One is Antioquia, the other the Caribbean coastal region, both neighbors of the ChocĂł. Their presence in the book has two purposes. One is mainly from the central ChocĂł, Antioquia, and the Caribbean region; my second was in MedellĂ­n, provincial capital of Antioquia. Some knowledge of these other two regions is thus clearly indispensable in order to comprehend the ethnic interaction between their people and the Chocoanos. The second purpose is more strategic. My aim in this book is to examine the interplay of discrimination and mestizaje. My main focus is on the Chocoanos. But this interplay had very different outcomes in different regions, according to local conjunctures of political economy and demography, and Antioquia and the Caribbean coast form perfect counterpoints to the ChocĂł in this respect, with the Caribbean coast intermediate between the evidently black ChocĂł and heavily “whitened” Antioquia. In short, if the national racial order of Colombia is based on the contradictory but interdependent coexistence of blackness, indianness, mixedncss, and whiteness, then it makes sense to examine other regions where these elements and conceptual categories worked themselves out in different ways. The first chapters therefore explore these two regions before turning to concentrate on the Choco itselfc In the rest of this introduction, I elaborate the themes ot blackness, indianness, race, and the nation…

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The influence of racial admixture in Egypt

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive on 2011-04-27 22:21Z by Steven

The influence of racial admixture in Egypt

Eugenics Review
Volume 7, Number 3 (October 1915)
pages 168-183

G. Elliot Smith, Professor of Anatomy
University of Manchester

I suppose it is inevitable in these days that one trained in biological ways of thought should approach the problems of anthropology with the idea of evolution as his guiding principle’; but the conviction must be reached sooner or later, by everyone who conscientiously and with an open mind seeks to answer most of the questions relating to man’s history and achievements—certainly the chapters in that history which come within the scope of the last sixty centuries—that evolution yields a surprisingly small contribution to the explanation of the difficulties which present themselves. Most of the factors that call for investigation concerning the history of man and his works are unquestionably the direct effects of migrations and the intermingling of races and cultures.

But I would not have you misunderstand my meaning. The forces of evolution to-day are at least as potent to influence human structure and capabilities as they were in the past to bring an ape to man’s estate. The effects of selection—not only the variety which Darwin qualified by the term “sexual,” but also what we have learned to call “organic” and “social” selection—are certainly emphasised by the heightened powers of discrimination which the intelligence and the fashions of civilised man create.

But one of the effects of the contact of races of different origins and traditions—each of which in its own particular way and in the seclusion of its own domain had successfully overcome the difficulties of existence, and incidentally become more or less specialised in structure and ability, as the result of thus meeting and overcoming its own special difficulties—was the benefitting of the whole community of intermingled races by the knowledge and experience acquired by each race individually. The pressure of maintaining the struggle for existence was thus enormously lightened and the influence of such factors correspondingly lessened. The apparent inhibition of some of the potentialities of the force of evolution among civilised men is not to be regarded as a token of its dwindling efficacy, but rather as an effect of the superior knowledge and experience of mankind enabling him to shield himself against those destructive factors that weeded out and so more rapidly modified his ancestors before they had acquired this wider experience and accumulated wisdom.

Whatever the explanation, the fact remains that during the last sixty centuries the distinctive features of the main subdivisions of mankind have undergone surprisingly little modification…

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Where Do We Come From?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2011-04-27 04:11Z by Steven

Where Do We Come From?

Discover
2003-05-01

Kathleen McGowan

Photography by Katy Grannan

A new generation of DNA genealogists stand ready to unearth our ancestors. We may not like what they find.

Brent Kennedy’s 19th-century ancestors stare out from his photo albums with dark eyes, high cheekbones, olive skin, and thick black hair—a genetic riddle waiting to be solved. It comes as no surprise that Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, and Abraham Lincoln may be among their kin, yet the members of this tribe have never fitted properly into American racial categories. Depending on the census taker or tax man, they were classified as white, “free persons of color,” or mulatto, often drifting across the color line as they moved from county to county.

Kennedy calls himself a Melungeon, but no one knows exactly what that means. There are perhaps as many as 200,000 Melungeons in the United States today, all descended from a mysterious colony of olive-skinned people who lived for centuries in the foothills of the Appalachians. Some say the Melungeons can be traced back to Portuguese sailors, shipwrecked in the 16th century, or to colonial-era Turkish silk workers. Others point to Gypsies, to Sir Francis Drake’s lost colony of Roanoke, or to the ancient Phoenicians. It’s not even clear where the word Melungeon comes from: It might be derived from the French mĂ©lange or even a corruption of an Arabic or Turkish term for “cursed souls.”…

…In the United States, where the proverbial drop of blood was once enough to distinguish a freeman from a slave, telling such stories is far more than a pastime. Less than a century ago, for instance, the Melungeons’ hazy racial status was enough to win them a long list of enemies. Virginia townspeople once hauled them into court for attempting to vote and hung them for marrying white women. One crusading Virginia state registrar launched a campaign in the 1930s and 1940s to hunt down all Melungeons and reclassify them as “colored.”

The term Melungeon was a slur until recent decades. “The Melungeons were always some other family who lived over on the other ridge,” says Jack Goins, a retired glass cutter and television technician who has spent decades researching his ancestors. Darlene Wilson, a 50-year-old administrator and history teacher at Southeast Community College in Kentucky, says that when she was a teenager in the 1960s, working at a lunch counter in Norton, Virginia, her boss made her scrub the booth after the Melungeons had finished eating.

Growing up in Wise, Virginia, Brent Kennedy had no clue that he was related to those shy-looking people who kept to themselves up in the Appalachian hills. He didn’t look particularly Gaelic, with his cornflower blue eyes and bronze skin, but Melungeon roots were something polite people didn’t talk about. After he began his genealogical research in the late 1980s, one great-aunt torched a collection of family photos and letters, and other relatives stopped speaking to him.

When Kennedy approached scholars with his questions, they couldn’t be bothered. Anthropologists and historians like Virginia DeMarce of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., had already settled the Melungeon question, they said. Kennedy’s people were an insular group like the Louisiana Red Bones and the South Carolina Brass Ankles. They were a “triracial isolate” with white, American Indian, and African-American blood—a footnote in history.

So Kennedy did his own research instead. His book, The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People, is part memoir, part manifesto. It draws on his family story and genealogy to show how the Melungeons, like African-Americans and American Indians, have been victims of vicious racism—and how they have struggled to protect themselves through assimilation. Kennedy’s thesis became a rallying cry for many Melungeons, but historians scoffed at his less-than-rigorous approach. Kennedy “essentially invented a ‘new race,'” DeMarce wrote in the National Genealogical Quarterly in 1996, a “historically nonexistent oppressed minority that belies his own ancestry.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Book explores racial identification

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing on 2011-04-27 03:04Z by Steven

Book explores racial identification

The Post and Courier
Charleston, South Carolina
2011-04-24

Karen Spain, legal writer based in Nashville

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey From Black to White. By Daniel J. Sharfstein. Penguin. 416 pages.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, “The Invisible Line” is a fascinating history of how three mixed-race families migrated across the color line and changed their racial identification from black to white.

The Gibsons, wealthy mulatto landowners in Colonial South Carolina, were white Southern aristocrats by the time of the Civil War.

The Walls, slave children freed by their white father, became respected members of the black middle class before giving up their prominence to “become” white.

The Spencers, hardworking Appalachian farmers in eastern Kentucky, spent almost a century straddling the color line.

The three intricately woven genealogies reveal an America where race has never been as simple as black or white. In rugged environments where survival meant relying on neighbors for security, commerce and marriage, it was easier to assume everyone was the same than to draw impenetrable distinctions between the races…

Read the entire review here.

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The Triracial Experience in a Poor Appalachian Community: How Social Identity Shapes the School Lives of Rural Minorities

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2011-04-27 02:42Z by Steven

The Triracial Experience in a Poor Appalachian Community: How Social Identity Shapes the School Lives of Rural Minorities

Ohio University
June 2005
176 pages

Stephanie Diane Starcher

A dissertation presented to the faculty of the College of Education of Ohio University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Education

This study investigates the ways racial labeling and the stigmas associated with a poor rural community influence the life circumstances of a group of triracial families living in Appalachia. Qualitative interviewing techniques are used as a way of understanding what is going on in the daily lives of participating triracial families. The data reveal that markers of distinctiveness associated with race, class, and place shape the identities of participants, which, in turn, influence their school experiences. Participants who identify with the African-American sociocultural group experience a “caste-like” status because of the compounding effect of racial stigmas and stereotypes of place and class. Faced with such oppressive life conditions, participants report that social advancement is nearly impossible. The values of competition, achievement, and securing an ever higher standard of living that are promulgated by the school compete with participants’ version of what constitutes the “good life” in this rural setting. Students must often choose between the beliefs of their own culture and those advanced by the school. Participants report that community members who do not share these multiple markers of distinctiveness are less likely to experience such cultural conflict and the same degree of marginalization at school.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Biohistorical approaches to “race” in the United States: Biological distances among African Americans, European Americans, and their ancestors

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2011-04-26 22:11Z by Steven

Biohistorical approaches to “race” in the United States: Biological distances among African Americans, European Americans, and their ancestors†

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Special Issue: Race Reconciled: How Biological Anthropologists View Human Variation
Volume 139, Issue 1 (May 2009)
pages 58-67
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20961

Heather J.H. Edgar, Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Human Osteology, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

†Author’s: Note: This study explores the effects of cultural concepts of race on changes in subpopulations in the United States. While some aspects of biology may correlate with cultural constructions of race, use of the term “race” here does not imply its biological validity under any definition. When not otherwise indicated, the words “race” or “racial” are used in this article to describe social categories.

Folk taxonomies of race are the categorizations used by people in their everyday judgments concerning the persons around them. As cultural traditions, folk taxonomies may shape gene flow so that it is unequal among groups sharing geography. The history of the United States is one of disparate people being brought together from around the globe, and provides a natural experiment for exploring the relationship between culture and gene flow. The biohistories of African Americans and European Americans were compared to examine whether population histories are shaped by culture when geography and language are shared. Dental morphological data were used to indicate phenotypic similarity, allowing diachronic change through United States history to be considered. Samples represented contemporary and historic African Americans and European Americans and their West African and European ancestral populations (N = 1445). Modified Mahalanobis’ D2 and Mean Measure of Divergence statistics examined how biological distances change through time among the samples. Results suggest the social acceptance for mating between descendents of Western Europeans and Eastern and Southern European migrants to the United States produced relatively rapid gene flow between the groups. Although African Americans have been in the United States much longer than most Eastern and Southern Europeans, social barriers have been historically stronger between them and European Americans. These results indicate that gene flow is in part shaped by cultural factors such as folk taxonomies of race, and have implications for understanding contemporary human variation, relationships among prehistoric populations, and forensic anthropology.

Read or purchase the article here.

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