At Peace With Many Tribes

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2013-05-25 02:18Z by Steven

At Peace With Many Tribes

The New York Times

Carol Kino

HUDSON, N.Y. — One sunny afternoon early this month Jeffrey Gibson paced around his studio, trying to keep track of which of his artworks was going where.

Luminous geometric abstractions, meticulously painted on deer hide, that hung in one room were about to be picked up for an art fair. In another sat Mr. Gibson’s outsize rendition of a parfleche trunk, a traditional American Indian rawhide carrying case, covered with Malevich-like shapes, which would be shipped to New York for a solo exhibition at the National Academy Museum. Two Delaunay-esque abstractions made with acrylic on unstretched elk hides had already been sent to a museum in Ottawa, but the air was still suffused with the incense-like fragrance of the smoke used to color the skins.

“If you’d told me five years ago that this was where my work was going to lead,” said Mr. Gibson, gesturing to other pieces, including two beaded punching bags and a cluster of painted drums, “I never would have believed it.” Now 41, he is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and half-Cherokee. But for years, he said, he resisted the impulse to quote traditional Indian art, just as he had rejected the pressure he’d felt in art school to make work that reflected his so-called identity…

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Race Is Not Biology

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2013-05-25 01:52Z by Steven

Race Is Not Biology

The Atlantic

Merlin Chowkwanyun
Departments of History and Public Health
University of Pennsylvania

How unthinking racial essentialism finds its way into scientific research

During the past two weeks, much outrage has arisen over former Heritage Foundation staffer Jason Richwine’s Harvard doctoral dissertation, which speculated that IQ differences between “Hispanic” and “non-Hispanic’ populations were genetically rooted. The claims mirrored those of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s scurrilous The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, which made similar claims about the intelligence of blacks. (Murray receives thanks in Richwine’s dissertation acknowledgments and wrote recently in National Review Online in defense of Richwine.)

The fury continues. In the past couple days, a group of scholars has circulated a petition excoriating Harvard for approving the dissertation and condoning scientific racism in the process. Their petition situates Richwine within an odious lineage stretching back to the era of eugenics and charges that his work rests on shoddy intellectual foundations. (These scholars are right: the late J. Phillipe Rushton, best known for claiming associations among race, brain size, and penis length, is cited by Richwine.) A group of 1,200 Harvard University students has also put together their own petition.

But the attacks on Richwine are missing something far more insidious than neo-eugenic claims about innately inferior intelligence between races. The backlash against Richwine and Murray, after all, gives some indication that their views are widely considered beyond the respectable pale in the post- Bell Curve era. Richwine and Murray are really extreme branches of a core assumption that is much more pervasive and dangerous because it isn’t necessarily racist on the surface: the belief in biological “races.” This first assumption is required to get to claims like Richwine’s, which argue that between Race A and Race B, differences exist (in “intelligence” or whatever else) that are grounded in the biological characteristics of the races themselves. Public outcry always greets the second Richwine-Murray-esque claim. But the first assumption required to reach it is more common and based on as shaky an intellectual foundation, even as it continues to escape equal scorn…

…In the past decade, a small but growing sub-field, anchored in multiple disciplines, has begun criticizing the unthinking racial essentialism that finds its way into scientific research more frequently than one might think, especially in medicine and public health orbits. One exemplar is the article ” “Racial Categories in Medical Practice: How Useful Are They?” which appeared in PLOS Medicine. Its authors first review the degree to which common conceptions of race have in fact historically shaped by administrative imperatives (not biological reality). They then issue a warning on the use of race as a proxy, writing that “once race is presumed, the ways in which multiple genetic inheritances interact with the environment within that individual seem to disappear. Clinical clues can become invisible.”…

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