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Lecture 8

ANTH 1120 Lecture 8: Lecture 8

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1120
Professor
E.Finnis

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ANTH 1120 Week 8, Fall 2014 Contemporary Human Diversity Lecture Outline 4 Key Points: 1 – The concept of 'race' is a social construct that is a biological fallacy 2 – Relationships between evolutionary processes and cultural contexts 3 – Human variation can have adaptive significance (although it doesn't have to) 4 – Even as we change and evolve, other organisms are doing the same thing (often influenced by the actions of humans) Human Variation - The reality -> humanity lives in almost all habitats - Acombination of biology culture technology - Reminder: the bicultural approach: recognizes the interrelationship of biology and the many facets of culture (including technology and behaviour) - our biology shapes our capacity ti develop culture and our cultures shape our behaviours - No other species has our range of habitats other than many bacteria - The adaptive significance of human variation- - Adaptability: the capacity to maintain function in the response to short or long term stressors - Many no mean that things are easy but that you are surviving - No all variation has adaptive significance The BioculturalApproach:Areminder - The interrelationship of biology and the many facets of culture (including technologies, behaviours) The concept of race is a social construct and is a biological fallacy - Long history of attempts at typologies - People have been attempting to classify other people into desecrate groups (races ) for 100s of years - But human population groups are not reproductively closed systems- people are moving around and breeding with each other, There will always be migration whether close or large migrations. - Polytypism (many types)There is broad geographic variatation within species bit only to a degree. and - the problem of attempting to draw 'racial' lines(who get to draw the lines? Where do they get drawn and base on what? - Ex: Skin colour- can people be classified based on their skin colour? We cant use it as a designation of race because there is a very broad range of skin colour in all parts of the world - Clines: a gradient over which the frequency of expression of a characteristic changes.(ie gradual shifts in trait prevalences through geographic spaces) - In skin tone, it gradual become darker closer to the equator. - Nose shape differs with humidity and does not line up with the cline of skin tones. - No clear breaks between skin tones and no other physical traits that correspond with skin tones at all time - Race classifications attempt to make clear boundaries where there aren't any and are therefore divisive. - 'Race' classifications attempt to make clear boundaries where there aren't any 1 Biological anthropologists have come to a consensus that the idea of race concept cannot be applied to human variation - That does not mean that we don't recognize biological diversity in humans! - ThereAmericanAnthropologicalAssociation (AAA) position - But we will have to recognize that there is biological diversity in the human species 6 fallacies about race 1 – Human population groups are homogenous - Not the case -? differences in humans are not minimal/non-existent - We can discredit the idea of race but we still have to recognize diversity 2 – Polygenic traits can be measured accurately - ie height and skin colour influences by several genes - most cant be measured accurately 3 – Continuously varying traits can be marked by discrete boundaries - No.Acontinuously varying trait has no inherently meaningful boundaries (and boundaries are always arbitrary and therefore subject to the biases of the boundary-drawer) 4 – Traits used in attempts at racial classifications are linked - Implies uniform geographic distribution - no.. 5 –Aspecific number of traits can define a ‘race' - ie quanification of race - No theres never any set of traits that could unambiguously assign an individual to a species groups - GroupAonly has certain traits that no other group has… Never happens 6 – Between-group genetic diversity distinguishes geographic races - More variation within human population groups that between human groups - Clusters and clines - The point-> any classification of humanity based on only a handful of characteristics(genotype or phenotype) is meaningless; Genetic analyses can tell us about historical patterns of human migration/ interbreeding Why does the concept of race remain? - Serve as a control of different groups - Cause or excuse competitive behaviour - Laziness: stereotyping people so we don't have to focus on them - It allows groups to dismiss science The problem with the idea of biological determinism - The (incorrect) belief that there is an association between physical characteristics and intelligence , behaviours morals values, abilities, social and economic status - Makes it possible to persecute others (a justification used to perpetuate inequalities) - Historical examples - Incorrect but still prevalent today in various forms - racism - So called “research” that links ideas of intelligence and behaviours of three ‘races’ 2 Bad ‘Science’: Phillipe Rushton UWO(psyc) Argues that: - People of asian descent are more intelligent, more sexually restrained and more socially and morally advanced - European descent = in the middle - People ofAfrican descent are sexually unrestrained least intelligent (less moral) Intelligence - No credible scientific evidence that some population are more/less intelligent than others - How do we define intelligence? What ‘kinds’of intelligence exists? How would we measure them?And who gets to decide which kind of intelligence is most important - Political/ Philosophical motives Race and Biomedical - Pg. 297-298, the use of race when it comes to biomedical treatment - Key points: “ persons of african origin may well have a genetic predisposition to heart disease but it is as important to ask what degree diet, poverty, education acres to health care and other lifestyle factors come into play” (Keenleyside & Lazenby 2011:297) - Box13.2 pg 293 Evolutionary processes and adaptive significance - Not all human variation has adaptive significance - Some variation does have some adaptive significance (but not always straightforward) - Variations in response to physical environmental stressors - Responses to physical environmental stressors (Pre- existing or thing we have done to modify the environment) Human Variation + adaptive significance - Physical stressors and research - Extreme cold extreme heat UV radiation - Adapting to different environments The adaptive significance of variations is skin tone - Tone related to amount of melanin - Many studies ▯ why are there variation? - Populations living at higher latitudes have lighter skin than tose living closer to the equator - Why are these sin tone differences advantageous in different environments? - Initially discussed in terms of exposure to solar radiation - Darker tones closer to the equator -> greater protection against skin cancers triggered by UV ray exposure - Vitamin D hypothesis: vit D in liver, fish oils butter yolds crean - can be produced by body through exposure to UV radiation - UV radiation weaker further from Equator -> lighter skin would be advantageous in these regions esp. if Vit D risk foods are relatively rare - rickets:Large forbear, odd shaped legs, curved spine - less likely to achieve reproductive stage, or be able to reproduce. 3 - Higher rates of rickets and osteomalacia among darker skinned people liing in northern latitudes that fairer skinned people - Exceptions(inuits have darker skin tone for a population that lives so high up in the arctic) and diets(inuits have dark skin because their diet is very high in Vit D. ) - Folate degradation - Folate: B vitamin key to fetal neural tube development - Neutral tube the anatomical structure that forms brain and spinal cord - Needs to be protected by bone - If you don't have enough folate when pregnant, the spinal cord may not develop properly - Spina bifida: spinal cord that doesn't fuse correctly and come out of spinal cord, impairs ability to walk.. etc… - Folate susceptible to degradation by UV radiation - Darker skin would offer some protection from this therefore a selective advantage closer to equator. - this is why pregnant woman take folate vitamins Adaptations to high altitude environments ▯ Hypoxic environments - Higher than 2500m above sea level - Environmental stressors: - High levels of UV - Dustiness, poor soils, difficult terrain - Limited ecosystems - Hypoxia - What is hypoxia? Inadequate oxygen in body tissues - high altitudes have lower barometric pressure (air pressure) - As barometric pressure decreases so does the molecular density of oxygen in the air - % of oxygen doesn’t decrease- still at about 21% but there are
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