Chapter 3 – Race and Ethnicity
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream” speech:
- 50 years ago: blacks were/are still suffering from the racial prejudices that have been long
established in America
- The term “culture” in anthropology presents two meanings:
1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act
imaginatively and creatively
2) The distinct ways that people living differently classify and represent their experiences, and act
We all have a social identity eg. Deaf people from last week: they have their own culture
that transcend where they come from on the planet
Hippie generation, Nerds, Bikers, Hipsters
o All these groups have an identity (symbols, aspects) to the ways they come together
and agree upon. They live according to those ideals that are part of their unification.
- A social classification based on a common cultural heritage and selected cultural features such
as language, religion, or dress. Ethnicity emerges from historical processes that incorporate
distinct social groups into a single political structure under conditions of inequality
- Ethnic groups:
o Social groups that are distinguished from one another on the basis of ethnicity
o The intentional construction of a collective public identity; it is the process that
produces what we commonly think of as ethnicity
o A form of negative racial or ethnic absolutism that encourages the violent elimination of
targeted groups and is central to the practice of racism
Physical Variation in Human Populations: Skin Color
- Along the equator: the sun has its most effect on the human body
- Whereas along the norther hemisphere: people have a different relationship with the sun
because of the tilt of the earth
- The distribution of individuals around the globe is a unique variation o Theories about variation + adaptation to exposure to sun = number of melanin sites in
Upon activation in UV light from the sun, melanin is similar to an umbrella that
covers the nucleus
Physical Variation in Human Populations: Adaptation to High Altitude
- People in high altitude places have developed a capacity to adapt to thinner air b/c of the
aspects of human variation in human population
- Differences in human size seem to be the result of both adaptations and acclimatization, with
both of these, in turn, affected by cultural factors such as nutrition and stress
- We are becoming more hybridized b/c of the global movement of people.
The Feature of Human Variation
- the exact reproduction of an individual from cellular tissue
- the substitution of some genes for others – is increasingly practiced in nonhuman organisms
In the long run, the perpetuation of genetic variability is probably more advantageous than the creation
of “perfect” and invariable human beings.
Variation in Degree of Social Inequality
- Societies vary in the extent to which social groups, as well as individuals, have unequal access to
2) Wealth or economic resources
- According to Morton Fried, egalitarian mans that within a given society “there are as many
positions of prestige in any given age/sex grade as there are persons capable of filling them”
- Eg. Hunter/gatherer society: whatever you bring into the community is distributed amongst
everyone equally – wealth + poverty is shared amongst all as well as shelter and protection.
- Thought as utopian but also a primitive part of culture: egalitarians had no motivation to be
better than one another.
- Egalitarian societies are extremely different to sustain due to external pressures bearing down
eg. Communism is an attempt at an egalitarian society Cuba: under Castro: Cubans hold an un-equalized idea of society, the taking care of the
population in a minimalist kind of view w/o the influences of consumerism.
- Ranking is characterized by social groups with unequal access to prestige or status but not
significantly unequal access to economic resources or power
- We live in a rank society!
- Has more freedom to move around in the ranks
- Two kinds:
1) Class-based societies
a. A category of persons who all have about the same opportunity to obtain economic
resources, power, and prestige
b. We call class systems open if there is some possibility of moving from on class to
another / closed if the ability to move is very restricted/impossible
c. People of the same social class tend to socialize together, where they live or where
i. A ranked group within a hierarchically stratified soc