GGRB13 – Lecture 8 – March 12, 2012
SOCIAL GEOGRAPHIES OF RACE AND RACIALIZATION
Key Concepts to Remember!
- What is race?
- We talk about it all the time, but what is it?
- How is race a social construction?
- Why is this idea so important? How is race racialized?
- Think of race as a process, no longer a word
- Why do we use the term Caucasian (and why we should banish it)?
What is “race”?
- Geography helps understand the processes
- Race and geography have one important trait in common
- They are both arbitrary systems of (dis)organization
- Where are you from?
- Race has been the history of an untruth
- We have these racial categories to make sense of things, but how do you define yourself
if you’re “mixed”?
- Why do we need race? What does it mean to be “white”, “black”, etc.
- These are racially political categories
- Race is a regulatory fiction
- This is an oxymoron, two opposites that come together
- It regulates society/world and yet it is a fiction, how it is embedded in society in which
some people have power while others do not
- Social intervention
- It changes across place and time
- What is race? Why do we put it in quotes? “Race”
- Epistemological perspective
- Race has political salience in society, and by putting it in quotes...? - How do you think about race?
- How do you negotiate your race? How do you think about your identity?
- What is your race? Are you White, Black, Caucasian?
- What do these categories mean?
Shattering race myths
- These categories are not static
- What it means to be attached to a particular racial group changes over time and space
- Do categories fit you?
Race seems obvious, right?
- As obvious as these thing seem, they are also deceptive
- The ways that races are classified are a matter of personal preferences among scientists
- What it means to be “black” changes over time and space
- Racial classification is idiosyncratic (peculiarity that serves to distinguish or identify)
- Fingerprints: Would group Europeans, black Africans and East Asians
- No one has been able to show there is any coherent way to define similarities within groups and
differences between groups on the basis of physical or genetic variation
- There’s no biological basis for race
- No such biological thing such as race
- Dividing humans into groups on the basis of some combination of physical and genetic traits
simply does not make sense
- Remember Semple’s ideas about mountain people
AAA Statement on Race, 1998
- There is a wide range of how people’s phenol type will look like
- Phenol type and geo-types are so different
- Most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups
- There is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them
The Social Construction of Race
- “Race is fabricated”, it is socially constructed
- New England Journal of Medicine: “Race is biologically meaningless”
- Not one characteristic, trait, or gene distinguishes all members of one so-called race from all
members of another so-called race The “Science” of race 19 Century
- Social death looks at particular people who suffer from how racism structures people’s lives
- Race is tied to science, when things are tied to science it holds more “weight”, there are
ideologies of power
- The ways in which people thought race was based on genetics
- Played a role in which Nazi’s conceptualized race
- It is a form of racial hygiene, a form of racial purity during WWII
Eugenics 20 Century
- Mulattos is a mixed person
- The term is used socially as people who are of mixed race
- In Spanish, it is a mix between a horse and a donkey
- Davenport clings onto myths of physical and psychological superiority of certain races over
Mixed race people
Climate and “Race Character”
- Nasty-Tropical Africa – people can’t think as well, the sun boils their brain
- Temperate Europe – more civilized
- Some places were seen as uncivilized because of their geography
- The idea that a higher level of race exists
- Higher type of humanity because of better-ordered communities, more comfort, with more
The Materiality of Race
- CRT (critical race theory) is about the relationship between race, racism, and power.
- The elimination of a scientific basis for race/racism does not eliminate the functioning of
race/racism in society
- Race continues to be a factor in socially constructed difference which has material
How the Irish Became White
- “White” was not a physical description
- It was a term of a social relation which could not exist without its opposite (“blacks”)
- “White man’s work” was work from which Afro-Americans were excluded The Term Caucasian
- Why do we use it?
- Because we don’t want to use the word “white”?
- We use it as a politically correct term for white
- Where and what is Caucasia?
Where does the term derive from?
- Border between Europe and Asia
- Not surprisingly, the peoples and languages are extremely diverse
- This is where Noah’s ark supposedly landed (in the Caucasus Mountains)
- Some human skulls were found there
- Came up with the idea of classifying people by race based on skulls
- He’s the father of taxonomy (classification)
- He’s also the father of scientific racism, determined who had power and who didn’t
- Came up with systems of nature
1735 Systems of Nature
- He came up with categories
- Americanus, Africanus, Asiaticus, Europeanus, and Monstrosus
- Americanus = red-skinned
- Africanus = black-skinned
- Asiaticus = yellow-skinned
- Europeanus = white-skinned
- Monstrosus = mythologic human sub-races
- Homo feralis – four-footed, mute hairy
- Hessian Wolf Boy – animal reared
- Puella Campanica – wild girl of Champagne
- Pantogonian Giant – Dwarf of the Alps
- The belief that certain skulls produce the most beautiful race of men (the Georgian)
- 5 Categories of race that belong to a single species
- Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethipoian, American and Malay
- Caucasians ranked first because they are the “most beautiful race of men” Mapping history of race in geography
- Race IN geography (where are the people of colour)
- Racialization of places
- It is all about seeing how people are racialized
- Race is a problematic term; it is a verb and a process, not simply a noun
- We are all “raced” everyday
- Terra nullius, you diminish other races
- Declared land to be “empty” for the taking if the inhabitants were not civilized enough to
- Leaves the door wide open for the British to declare that the lands that would comprise Canada
were theirs simply because Aboriginal peoples were uncivilized nomads
Terra Nullius today: Gitskan Wetsuwetin
- Land claim case: BC Supreme Court
- Judge declared Gitskin did not have horses and did not develop land in a way that would
confirm their claim to it
- If you are not supposedly using the land to its fullest potential then you cannot lay claim to it
Early work on Race and Geography
- Remember, geography is a “survey” course
- Why is the textbook so obsessed with segregation? How racial population are closely
segregated in certain places
- Emry Jones “A Social Geography of Belfast” (1960)
- Racial segregation
- Spatial sociology
- What are the spatial patterns and movements of minority group concentration?
Influenced by the Chicago School
- Beginning of 20 century
- How nature and geography comes together, how “natural communities” emerge within
- Founded by Robert Park, Ernest Burgess, and Roderick McKenzie
- Think about how people move out of the city into the rural
- Urban Ecology
- Cities were environments like those found in nature - Struggle for scarce urban resources led to competition and division of urban space and
distinctive ecological niches or “natural areas” in which people shared similar social
- Concentric zone theory: Cities taking the form of five concentric rings
Why’d people like this idea?
- “Natural community” appealed to people because it fit with a general belief in importance of
unregulated economic competition
- Urban neighbourhoods weren’t planned but emerged out of ecological processes