Biracialism in American Society: A Comparative View

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2011-08-31 23:13Z by Steven

Biracialism in American Society: A Comparative View

American Anthropologist
Volume 57, Issue 6 (December 1955)
pages 1253–1263
DOI: 10.1525/aa.1955.57.6.02a00150

Ruth Landes

Our culture exercises certain values forcefully through our interracial arrangements, principally Negro and white. Comparison with other white-governed societies receiving Negroes reveals the uniqueness in American developments, above all in the operations of Negro status. Studies of American Negro life have been done chiefly by disciplines other than anthropology; American anthropological method has not contributed new insights to the already rich literature. No scholar employs intercultural comparisons of modern Negro groups.

There is, regarding the American Negro, Powdermaker’s study of the biracial functioning of a Southern town, giving the values of both segments of the community (1939); and anthropologists have participated in distinguished single- and multidiscipline presentations of Negro personality, culture, and society, of historical and culture origins, of separate institutions like family, church, and press. All the accounts are mutually elaborating and reinforcing despite some differences of interpretation, as reflected, for example, in the disputed terminology of “caste” and “class.” There are, however, hidden commitments to cultural valuations and personal philosophies in the work of individual scholars, which Myrdal shows need enunciation (Myrdal 1944: 1036-64); cross-cultural surveys of Negro place in other white-ruled societies show how substantial for method and theory are the value cautions stressed by this foreign observer.The present article rests upon the whole literature, since no real anthropological differentiation is apparent, and statements are pointed cross-culturally by my studies of Negro life in other societies.

American culture and society have a Negro or interracial aspect. It has shaped the life of each American Negro by rigid, clear formulas of relationships with whites, especially in the south and southwest, specifying conditions of residence, employment, schooling and burial, of sex and marriage, of separate conduct and speech for the races. The Supreme Court’s decision ordering against segregation in public education reveals again how Negro life rests upon assumptions of the host society. They have been most completely defined as the traditional South saw them, including reciprocal injunctions upon whites which have not held so fast in other regions. Other regions of the country before World War I actually knew Negroes as little as Indians, except for “northern” centers like New York, Chicago, Detroit.

Southern blacks began the Great Migration north during the first war, attracted by industry, and were later joined by demobilized soldiers, all groups equally footloose. Adrift from the clearly patterned South, the blacks conducted themselves essentially as they had at home, unrelatedly perpetuating fragments of the race-ways to which they were habituated in association with whites; there was no solid guidance to new speech, conduct, and interracial concepts…

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Peeping Through the Reeds: A story about living in apartheid South Africa

Posted in Africa, Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, South Africa on 2011-08-30 22:44Z by Steven

Peeping Through the Reeds: A story about living in apartheid South Africa

August 2010
284 pages
ISBN: 9781452028774

Musuva (June C. Hutchison)

Peeping Through the Reedsis a fictionalised story about growing up “Coloured” under apartheid in South Africa. Based on real events, the story is told through the frank and insider voice of Musuva who narrates the story of a girl, Tumelo. The story draws on many conversations with elders and provides spine chilling insight into what enslavement, colonialism, class and apartheid and the struggle for freedom did to people and their mental health, to families and to relationships in South Africa, and celebrates a people’s deep resilience in their fight for human rights and dignity. Though South Africa has had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of apartheid, much of what is told in this book is little known, little acknowledged and little spoken about. In spite of the bottomless pain and loss endured through many generations, the story reflects the brave and enduring spirit of the people of the Cape. Peeping Through the Reeds hopes to make its contribution to a further understanding of unknown dimensions of South Africa’s miraculous survival of a crime against humanity, and the necessity of the ongoing healing project for all South Africans today. For those who would have visited South Africa and the Cape for the World Cup in 2010, or at any other time in the past, and also for those who hope to do so in future, this story hopes to help readers gain an empathetic and rare insight into a little understood genetically most diverse, brutalised, impoverished and marginalised people who today inhabit an enchanting landscape of the earth – the southernmost region of the continent of Africa which is the closest to the South Pole. In this story, the reader gets to know of a place and people of world significance to all humanity.

Musuva is the Khoisan pen name of June C. Hutchison, an award-winning South African educator and community leader, who grew up as an oppressed person under apartheid in South Africa. Born at the time of the infamous Rivonia Trials in 1962, when freedom eventually came for South Africans in 1994, she was already a mother of two sons and in her early thirties. She spent much of her teenage years and life fighting injustice in South Africa and to instill (through education) in people a pride in their identity and belonging as part of the ancient global human race. She has published several books in education and works in community development and race equality in the United Kingdom. As a research fellow on identity and belonging at the University of York (Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past) and as a visiting research fellow in human rights and heritage at Kingston University (Faculty of Business and Law), June has deep maternal Khoisan ancestral roots and continues to work to the benefit of her beloved country and people, as a proud Global South African.

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Creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and degeneracy: A critique of selected histories of Sierra Leone and South Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2011-08-30 22:31Z by Steven

Creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and degeneracy: A critique of selected histories of Sierra Leone and South Africa

Current Sociology
Volume 59, Number 5 (September 2011)
pages 635-654
DOI: 10.1177/0011392111408678

Zimitri Erasmus, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
University of Cape Town

This work examines the nexus between creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and discourses of degeneration. It focuses on two sites: (1) 19th- and 20th-century Freetown, Sierra Leone, and (2) the early Cape and 20th-century South Africa. The author engages three key thinkers: Édouard Glissant, Jean-Loup Amselle and Mahmood Mamdani to illustrate how these colonial administrations deployed creolization to construct partial citizenships derived from ideas of ‘mixed race’ and ‘corrupted’ or ‘lacking’ culture. The author argues that ‘Creole’ and ‘creole’ signified, in the colonial imagination, a ‘degenerate type’ behind its legal category, ‘non-native’, and shows how uses of the concepts ‘creolization’ and ‘creole’, in selected histories of the Cape and Freetown, surrender to their colonial meanings, obscure their biopolitical significance and so, collude with discourses of degeneration. The article concludes first, that Edouard Glissant’s conception of creolization as method counters ethnological reasoning and second, that his concept ‘Relation’ enables citizenship(s) that contest social inequality and live with difference.

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Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-08-30 06:00Z by Steven

Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Tulane University
May 2006
274 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3275113
ISBN: 9780549253327

Geoffrey Scott Mitchell

A Dissertation Submitted on the Twenty-Sixth day of May 2006 to the Department of Spanish and Portugues in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirments of the Graduate School of Tulate University for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This project is an examination of the novels O Mulato (Aluísio Azevedo, 1889) and Cecilia Valdés (Cirilo Villaverde, 1882) and their call for social reform and a re-examination of the place of blacks in the emerging republics of Brazil and Cuba. Both novels question and criticize social constructs of race while pressing for an improved treatment of both free and enslaved blacks.

This project provides an intellectual history of eighteenth and nineteenth century rac(ial)ist theories that exerted a pronounced influence on Azevedo and Villaverde. Specifically, this section examines physiognomy, phrenology, and craniometry in addition to sociological and anthropological approaches to racial hybridism, the evolutionary theories of Darwin and Spencer, and the geographical determinism of Buckle. Finally, the chapter provides a close reading of Comte’s positivism and its reception by the intelligentsia in Cuba and Brazil.

Azevedo’s O Mulato purports to discredit racial discrimination by white society and the destructive influence of the Catholic clergy in Brazil’s northern province of Maranhão during the 1870s by deploying the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a wealthy and educated mulatto and his white, aristocratic cousin. Although Azevedo endeavored to illustrate the problematic nature of racial discrimination and the social compartmentalization of blacks in Brazil—both relics of Portuguese colonialism—he nevertheless succumbed to the racialist ideologies of the nineteenth century and imbued his protagonist with stereotypical characteristics. Although blacks were rising socially via education and the military, Azevedo nevertheless envisioned a future, positivistic republic necessarily led by a white elite.

In Cecilia Valdés, Villaverde deploys an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a poor but beautiful, nearly-white mulatta and her aristocratic, half-brother as agents of the policy of whitening. As in O Mulato, the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship reveals the difficulty in crossing racial and social castes and thus uniting different socio-economic sectors of the imagined community. Only one intraracial romance involving whites proves to be successful in the novel. This relationship serves as a metaphor indicating that only enlightened whites are capable of leading Cuba out of colonialism and into independence.



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Mismatched racial identities, colourism, and health in Toronto and Vancouver

Posted in Articles, Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-08-29 19:17Z by Steven

Mismatched racial identities, colourism, and health in Toronto and Vancouver

Social Science & Medicine
Volume 73, Issue 8, October 2011
pages 1152–1162
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.07.030

Gerry Veenstra, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of British Columbia

Using original telephone survey data collected from adult residents of Toronto (n=685) and Vancouver (n=814) in 2009, I investigate associations between mental and physical health and variously conceived racial identities. An ‘expressed racial identity’ is a self-identification with a racial grouping that a person will readily express to others when asked to fit into official racial classifications presented by Census forms, survey researchers, insurance forms, and the like. Distinguishing between Asian, Black, South Asian, and White expressed racial identities, I find that survey respondents expressing Black identity are the most likely to report high blood pressure or hypertension, a risk that is slightly attenuated by socioeconomic status, and that respondents expressing Asian identity are the most likely to report poorer self-rated mental health and self-rated overall health, risks that are not explained by socioeconomic status. I also find that darker-skinned Black respondents are more likely than lighter-skinned Black respondents to report poor health outcomes, indicating that colourism, processes of discrimination which privilege lighter-skinned people of colour over their darker-skinned counterparts, exists and has implications for well-being in Canada as it does in the United States. Finally, ‘reflected racial identity’ refers to the racial identity that a person believes that others tend to perceive him or her to be. I find that expressed and reflected racial identities differ from one another for large proportions of self-expressed Black and South Asian respondents and relatively few self-expressed White and Asian respondents. I also find that mismatched racial identities correspond with relatively high risks of various poor health outcomes, especially for respondents who consider themselves White but believe that others tend to think they are something else. I conclude by presenting a framework for conceptualizing multifaceted suites of racial identities and relating their various components and inconsistencies between them to health outcomes.

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Loudoun Square: A Community Survey-I (An Aspect of Race Relations in English Society)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-08-28 23:02Z by Steven

Loudoun Square: A Community Survey-I (An Aspect of Race Relations in English Society)

The Sociological Review
Volume a34, Issue 1-2 (January 1942)
pages 12–33
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.1942.tb02744.x

K. L. Little

Recent research in North America has brought more clearly to light certain facets of urban and contemporary social life, more particularly in the shape of the urban community, which have been ascribed and limited hitherto to the much smaller and less complicated social configuration, such as the village, or even the so-called primitive folk society. The Coloured community of Cardiff, of whose anthropology this paper offers a preliminary description, certainly brings to the quarter of the town which it inhabits something of that distinctive quality which Park finds in different areas of the modern city.But the interest the anthropologist has in this community lies not only in its uniqueness in terms of racial hybridity, and its manifold diversity of language, religion, and even of culture, but in the curious reflection it throws on “normal” English society, and on the wider cultural values which appertain to the latter.

The account of these anthropological investigations in the dockland of Cardiff durring August and September 1941 has been styled a “community-survey.” By convention the social survey, or survey of a community, is concerned exclusively with modern civilized and usually urban society. Ideally, it may be defined as a study of the sociology, i.e. of the social institutions and activities, of people living in a particular locality. On the other hand, as Ginsberg has pointed out, the study of contemporary social conditions in this country, at any rate, has been inspired by direct interest in practical reform, and has not in general been guided by…

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Black Skin, White Skulls: The Nineteenth Century Debate over the Racial Identity of the Ancient Egyptians

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2011-08-28 22:32Z by Steven

Black Skin, White Skulls: The Nineteenth Century Debate over the Racial Identity of the Ancient Egyptians

Volume 13, Number 2 (2007)
pages 6-20
DOI: 10.1080/13534640701267123

Robert Bernasconi, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy
Pennsylvania State University

Not so long ago, the question ol the racial identity of the Ancient Egyptians passed beyond the narrow confines of academia onto television and into the national newspapers when, in the wake of  Martin Bernal’s Black Athena. he and certain Afrocentric historians like Molefi Kete Asante, were criticized by Mary Lefkowitz and others for not respecting proper scholary standards However, my aim in this paper is not to expose the errors made on either side of the argument, still less to decide the racial identity of the Ancient Egyptians. This latter task assumes that we have agreed on ways of classifying the races which, given the fact that contemporary biology does not recognize racial classifications, we do not. My aim in this essay is to perform the long overdue task of documenting how the Ancient Egyptians were racially identified during the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century. In particular, I will support, suitably modified, the contention of the Haitian thinker Anténor Firmin, that it was not until 1842 that the Philadelphian physician, Samuel George Morton, became the first person to present a sustained scientific argument according to which the people of ancient Egypt belonged to the White race. The debate between Bernal and Lefkowitz reminds us that many people today are still heavily invested in the question of the racial identity of the Egyptians. In order to understand why this is so, it is necessary to know why it was such a major issue in the nineteenth century.

At the end of the eighteenth century the argument was already beginning to be heard that if the people of ancient Egypt were African in a way that attached them to the so-called Ethiopian, Black or Negro race, then the attempt to match the hierarchy of civilizations to the hierarchy of races, which Europeands had already defined in the late eighteenth century, could not be sustained. The stakes were particularly high as the Greeks had been explicit about their debt to the Egyptians. In 1787, Constantin François Volney had published his Travels through Egypt and Syria and had declared that the Copts, who at that time were widely thought to be the descendants of the ancient Egyptians, still had largely Negro characteristics. Four years later, Volney published The Ruins, or Meditations on the Revolutions of Empires, some editions of which include the lines: ‘A race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzed hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.’ Volney did not initiate this idea, which relies on the testimony of, among other ancient authors, Herodotus, who described the Egyptians as having black skin and wooly hair…

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Race and Genomics. Old Wine in New Bottles? Documents from a Transdisciplinary Discussion

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2011-08-28 22:02Z by Steven

Race and Genomics. Old Wine in New Bottles? Documents from a Transdisciplinary Discussion

NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Volume 16, Number 3 (August 2008)
pages 363-386
DOI 10.1007/S00048-008-0301-6

Staffan Müller-Wille
ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society
University of Exeter

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Berlin, Germany

From July 25 to 29, 2007, the biennial meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology(ISHPSSB) was hosted by the University of Exeter. About 430 papers were submitted, and we had the pleasure to put together a programme as well as a plenary session of invited speakers on a topic of their choice. After some discussion within the programme committee, we decided to organize a session of four speakers who were asked to address, each from a different disciplinary perspective, the recent re-emphasis on racial categories in genomic studies of ancestry, public health, pharmacology, and forensics.

The topic was not only chosen because of its timeliness. It so happened that the ISHPSSB meeting also coincided with the tercentenary of both Georges Buffon and Carl Linnaeus. Both are arguably the founding fathers of modern biology, with the emphasis they put on the reproduction rather than the generation of living beings (Müller-Wille/Rheinberger 2007). But there is also another legacy of these naturalists, one which is more problematic. This is racial anthropology which both Buffon and Linnaeus, almost simultaneously, initiated by their proposals for a universal partitioning of mankind along lines of skin colour, temperament, and descent (Sloan 1995). This original classification of mankind into three or four major ”races”—a white, a black, and a yellow or red one—is still very much in place, even in the high-tech contexts of today’s genomics. According to its own rhetoric, for example, the International Haplotype Map Project studies human genomic variation through four sample populations” (see The choice of these sample populations, however, is revealing: the Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria; Japanese from Tokyo; the Han Chinese from Beijing; Utah residents with ancestry from northern and western Europe. This choice was undoubtedly guided by the colour scheme originally proposed by Linnaeus and Buffon. The history of race in biology and medicine exhibits a curious mixture of archaic and innovative elements.

Until very recently there existed a broad consensus among scientists, as well as students of science, that racial anthropology belonged to a past thoroughly outdated by the combined efforts of mathematical population genetics and molecular biology, a consensus that dates back to the so-called UNESCO Statement on Race from 1951. However, in the wake of the completion of the Human Genome Project, and with projects like the Human Diversity Project, the HapMap Project, various national ‘biobank’ projects, and a diversity of private and public initiatives of ‘ancestry’ research, racial categories appear to have regained significance in recent years again, inside and outside of the biomedical sciences. Human genomic diversity is mapped against grids of racial distinctions, drugs and life-style recommendations target racially defined groups, and genetic tests offer the opportunity to determine ancestry in racial terms. Increasingly, close historical scrutiny also reveals that race was not only put back on the agenda again occasionally by high-profile publications like Richard J. Herrnstein’s and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve (1994), but that it has also formed a persistent thread in medical and population genetics research throughout the post-WWII era (Pogliano 2005, Wailoo/Pemberton 2006).

To set the stage for the plenary session, we included five questions in the letter of invitation that we sent to the four speakers. It may be useful to quote them here, as they were originally formulated: “What is it about racial categories—famously introduced in an ad hoc fashion by Buffon and Linnaeus, and again and again denounced as primitive and untenable by prominent life-scientists in the course of their long history—that lets them persist, even in the high-tech world of present day genomics and systems biology? Or is this resilience just an illusion? Has ‘race’, just like any other scientific concept, acquired very different meanings in different historical settings? In that case: How does ‘race’ in its present usage differ from ‘race’ in the past? And which recent social and political developments have triggered its renewed significance?”

The four statements that were given in front of the delegates of the ISHPSSB meeting on the morning of July 26, 2007, were very different in style and perspective. We will not endeavour to distil a common take-home message from them, but will let each speak for themselves. One common structural element to all of them, however, is probably worth pointing out, as it may reflect the specific historical moment in which the session took place. This is the acknowledgement that “race” is not per se an “irrational” concept, but a highly variable and diverse concept that was and continues to be shaped by the ways in which science and society are articulated.

…Is there a Biological Concept of Race?

Jean Gayon
Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne
Institut d’histoire et philosophie des sciences et des techniques

Most contemporary biologists have abandoned the use of the term “race” in scientific discourse. Other words are used to categorise intra-specific taxonomic diversity: sub-species, variety, strain, local population, deme, etc. These words are ideologically more neutral than “race.” Nevertheless, biologists find it difficult when they discuss with a public that continues to use the vocabulary of “race.” For example, when a biologist says “races do not exist”, the exact meaning is generally unclear. Does he or she mean that the notion of race is confused? Or that the term does have a precise meaning, but that what it refers to does not exist, either in nature in general, or among humans in particular? This is the question I want to examine in two steps. First I will consider what the category of race could mean for modern biologists as a whole; then I will examine those aspects that specifically relate to humans…

…To conclude, I would like to relativize the biological approaches to the notion of race in the case of humans, and say that in humans, the most important aspect of race is not the biological aspect, but rather race as a social signifier. In a remarkable book published around 30 years ago, the sociologist Colette Guillaumin argued that we should distinguish two levels of discussion in the question of human races: the “concrete” level which, she argues, is that of biological research, and the “symbolic” level, which relates to the function of the signifier “race” in modern societies. Guillaumin insisted that the question of race as a social signifier is separate from that of the result of scientific debates on races as natural objects. Race as a social operator is not so much a concept as a fetish-notion. What is important is not whether it exists or not, but what it produces in practice. “That [i.e., race] does not exist. That leads to death. It is a murder machine, a technical murder machine. Of proven efficacy. It is a way of rationalising and organising the murderous violence and the domination of some social groups over other social groups that have been rendered powerless.” (Guillaumin 1972: 65)…

…Race in History

Renato G. Mazzolini
Università degli studi di Trento
Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e Sociali

The only way I may contribute to the issue under discussion is by briefly talking about my own research and then by addressing four of the five questions that have been put on the floor by the organizers of this session (see introduction). Let me also state straight away that I feel more confident with literature published between 1600 and 1850 than in contemporary scientific literature on race and that my knowledge is limited to ideas and theories put forth in western Europe and North America.

It is generally assumed that the term race took on a taxonomic meaning at the very end of the eighteenth century. Many of the authors I studied worked before that date, before the notion of race was solidified, and they investigated skin colour (Mazzolini 1994). It should be noted that in the period running from the early seventeenth century to 1800 human pigmentation…

  • was the object of intense anatomical, microscopical, physiological and chemical investigations giving rise to a number of theories which attempted to explain how human differences in skin colour came about;
  • was used as the principal marker for classifying human varieties from a zoological point of view;
  • was viewed as the main trait indicating interracial crossing and thus provided an element of analysis for what is often called pre-Mendelian genetics;
  • stimulated scholars to think about the original colour of mankind by appearing in pathological conditions such as albinism;
  • was the cornerstone on which the notion of race was constructed;
  • was used to construct powerful models of somatic identities (e.g. white, black, yellow, brown and red) which still have far more devastating effects on human relations than the very notion of race.

Theories of skin colour cannot be understood without considering slavery and colonialism. At the end of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth century skin colour was linked to history, civilisation and social structure. And so was the notion of race, for which skin colour remained the main marker of racial differences (Mazzolini 2007). For this reason I stress that race is a biopolitical notion, that is, a notion that has been used in daily life as well as by the life sciences and the social sciences, with the result of reciprocal contaminations. At a historical level this is quite evident. Some scholars distinguish four distinct ideas of race: status-race, formal-race, historical-race, and culture-race. From my point of view, it is interesting to note that in all these four ideas of race, colour plays a significant role…

…Race and Biology. Beyond the Perpetual Return of Crisis

Jenny Reardon
University of California, Santa Cruz
Sociology Department

The use of racial categories in biology has once again arisen as a problem in political and scholarly arenas. As the editors of this issue note, “until recently there existed a broad consensus among scientists, as well as students of science, that racial anthropology belonged to a past thoroughly outdated by the combined efforts of mathematical population genetics and molecular biology.” Several other similar moments of consensus preceded this one. In each moment, natural scientists, social scientists and the popular press concurred that a new powerful science had emerged that could reveal the truth, and thus counter social ideologies, about “race”: the science of population genetics in the 1950s, molecular biology in the 1970s, the genome sciences and bioinformatics in the 1990s and today. In each case, a crisis reoccurred as social ideologies of race once again became associated with biological ideas and practices. In the brief space at my disposal here I would like to reflect on what produces this experience of the cyclical return of the problem of race in biology. I would like to then offer a diagnosis of what is unique about the current moment of return, and how we might respond to it…

…An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Impact of Genomics on the Meaning of “Race”, and the Future Role of Racial Categories in Biomedical Research

George T. H. Ellison
St. George’s-University of London

Richard Tutton

Simon M. Outram

Paul Martin

Richard Ashcroft

Andrew Smart

As an interdisciplinary team exploring the use of racial categories in biomedical research from the perspective of epidemiology (GTHE), anthropology (GTHE, SMO), sociology (RT, AS), bioethics (RA) and science and technology studies (RT, PM, AS), what we hope to offer to this trans-disciplinary dialogue on “race and genomics” in the NTM. Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine draws on: our analysis of the longstanding debate within the biomedical literature concerning the meaning and aetiological utility of “race” as well as interviews with 22 geneticists working on the editorial boards of high-impact genetics and biomedical journals and 36 researchers working on UK-based biobanking and pharmacogenetic projects– interviews which examined variation in the conceptualisation and operationalisation of racial categories, and the perceived utility of these categories in the analytical design of research, the interpretation of research findings, and the translation thereof across different research and clinical contexts (see Outram/Ellison 2006a, Martin et al. 2007).

At the outset, however, we feel it is important to acknowledge that much of what we hope to contribute here has already been said, and said more eloquently, by a good many commentators and analysts before us. Not least amongst these is the Loyola University epidemiologist Richard S. Cooper, whose 2003 article in the International Journal of Epidemiology (bearing the uncannily similar title “Race, genes, and health—new wine in old bottles”) addressed many of the questions posed by the organisers of this trans-disciplinary dialogue. Cooper felt that advances in genetic technology should have been able to resolve the contentious and questionable use of racial categories as “surrogates for genetic effects at the population level” (i.e. as markers for potentially important differences in genetic variation amongst human populations) during the important period—what anthropologist Mike Fortun (2007) has called the “meantime”—between the conceptualisation and invention of genomic technologies and their widespread use in biomedical research. Richard Cooper also recognised that there was a “tension between reaffirmation of tradition and transformation of biological concepts” in which the new genomic technologies have, somewhat paradoxically, been used both to confirm that there are measurable differences in genetic variation between traditional “racial” groups and to demonstrate that these differences are far smaller than those found between individuals within such groups (cf. Reardon in this issue). And although Cooper has long questioned the value of using “racial” categories as markers for genetic variation in biomedical research (see also: Cooper 1993, Cooper/Kaufman 1998)—even for the modest “racial” differences in genetic variation that have been confirmed by advances in genomic technology—he accepts that the meaning of these differences in genetic variation remain open to interpretation, and that the claim that “race has little or no biological [i.e. genetic] meaning” has been an unhelpful “irritant to geneticists who see the importance of population variation [in genetics] in an array of conditions.”…

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Studied in race crossing VI. The Indian remnants in Eastern Cuba

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2011-08-28 20:59Z by Steven

Studied in race crossing VI. The Indian remnants in Eastern Cuba

Volume 27, Number 1 (1954)
pages 65-96
DOI: 10.1007/BF01664155

R. Ruggles Gates
Department of Anthropology
Harvard University

A preliminary account was given at the 30th International Americanist Congress, Cambridge, England, August, 1952. Received for publication July 27, 1953

This paper is in one aspect a study of the later stages of absorption of a race surviving in small numbers in a more numerous population of another race. In that respect it resembles the study of a small Negro element being partly absorbed into a Caucasian population in Canada (Gates 1953a). But in the present case the miscegenation of the Indians in Cuba has been first with the Spaniards and more recently with Negroes. It shows that the absorption of small numbers of one race in another requires many centuries before it is complete. The history of the Basques in Western France and Northern Spain shows that, even where the physical differences are of a very minor character, the differences in customs and in location will lead to the persistence of a race within a larger population for many millenia. The physical differences, where they exist, will persist indefinitely, long after the cultural differences have disappeared.

It has frequently been stated that the Indians of Cuba were exterminated by A.D. 1600, but this is not strictly true. Pichardo Moya (1945), who gives a full bibliography of Cuban history and archeology, quotes Morrell, who wrote before 1760, that traces of the last Indians still existed in the vicinity of Bayamo, Canéy and Jiguaní, possibly in Pinar del Río, around Alquízar, and certainly in Oriente. Pichardo…

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A Mystery of a People

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2011-08-28 18:25Z by Steven

A Mystery of  a People

WUNC 91.5, Chapel Hill
The State of Things
North Carolina Public Radio

Isaac-davy Aronson, Host

Questions of racial identity and cultural heritage have long surrounded a group of Appalachians called the Melungeons. In recent years, curiosities have been piqued about this loosely connected group of people, spawning DNA testing, numerous books, Web sites and a documentary film. Guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson talks with K. Paul Johnson, corresponding secretary for the Melungeon Heritage Association; and Julie Williams Dixon, a Raleigh-based writer and director of the film “Melungeon Voices.”

Listen to the interview (00:19:10) here.

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