Migration and Race Mixture from the Genetic Angle

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy on 2011-12-05 23:18Z by Steven

Migration and Race Mixture from the Genetic Angle

The Eugenics Review
Volume 51, Number 2 (July 1959)
pages 93-97

Sir Macfarlane Burnet, O.M., F.R.S., Director
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

This paper was prepared at the request of the Department of Immigration for discussion by delegates at the Australian Citizenship Convention. The views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department.

From the long-term point of view, immigration is chiefly important to Australia for the overall changes that it will eventually make in the genetic character of our population. Every growing country that receives substantial immigration from other parts of the world is in a sense a melting-pot from which new combinations of body-build, of skin colour, and even of personality, may eventually emerge. The process is immensely complex and can only be described in broad outline. In many ways our description can be no more than an attempt to interpret the human observations in terms of genetic ideas that have been developed from the study of such very different animals as fruit ffies and mice. Yet the very fact that basically similar gentic laws are evident in the behaviour of mice, of fruit flies, and of bacteria, makes us confident that they are equally applicable to man…

…Advantages and Disadvantages of Race Mixture

Extensive reading has failed to locate a single example where it can be shown that hybrid races or individuals living under circumstances where no social disability attached to their condition, were demonstrably inferior to both parents. Where healthy typical individuals of each race are concerned, the offspring can be expected to show greater physical health than either and-though here the evidence is slighter-a greater likelihood of exceptional mental ability.

Serious attempts have been made to show that where different racial groups mingle, there the likelihood of an outcropping of genius is highest. Kretchmer considered that where the Alpine race containing Neanderthal genes made contact with Nordics in the German speaking parts of Europe, there had appeared an exceptional number of outstanding men. Toynbee generalized that “the geneses of civilization require creative contributions from more races than one”. It seems to be the general rule that there is a lag period of a few centuries between the beginnings of race mixture in a given region and the full flowering of a new culture or civilization.

There are potential genetic disadvantages of race mixture and it is probably true that particularly in later generations than the primary hybrid, occasional individuals with discordant characters, e.g. teeth over-large for the jaw that carries them, can be seen. It has not been shown decisively that such discordancies are more frequent than in people not descended from recent racial mixture…

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