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Lecture Seven: Race and Racism – March 15, 2011
How do Anthropologists think of Race?
1.Race is a recent human invention
2.Race is about culture not biology
3.Race is embedded in institutions and everyday life
How does our society think of race?
•What is race?
oCategories of people based on skin colour, clothing, practices, speech
(language and colloquialisms/accents), religion, and other physical
•How do you determine a person's race?
oAsk them; look for patterns
•How does race shape life?
oDetermines social groups
oShapes how people look at you
oExplanations for behaviours
oCreates allowed/unallowed behaviours
oEffects social status
Does race exist?
•Race as biological categories that are exclusive and meaningful do not exist
oEx. Certain 'races' have different average femur length, but there is
nothing biologically determinate about people who happen to have this
average length that predicts behaviour
oEx. Someone is racially described as 'black' by the colour of their skin,
but the connotations and meaning of the racial term 'black' means more
than that you have a certain skin colour
•Race is a social construction the imposes behavioural and social ideas on
'biologically distinct' groups
•If race is biological only than it should be easy to identify individuals, and it
should not be able to change, but this is not the case
Race vs. Ethnicity
•Race: 'natural' or biological categories
•Ethnicity: shared sense of identity and a relationship to other groups
Biological and Race
•Phenotypic differences divide races and other qualities are added on to these
groups without biological reasons
•AAA comment on race:
oBoth scholars and general public have naturalized race