February 27, 2012
Why are We Still Talking About Race?
Anthropological Critiques of Racist Thinking
Try July, 9 1991
“Traditional” Identity and Culture
Picture of “natives” holding and hiding tv sets as anthropologists come into view
Recap: Deconstructing Identity
“Nobody is anybody except in relation to somebody”
o The idea of the self – of an individual being, as an entity unto themselves.
Without relation to anything, you would continue to be the person you think
it is – this is a western idea
o I am not an individual who cannot be defined in relation to society/social
o There might not be a correct way of thinking of the self
Therefore, identity is not fixed or natural but a process
o Our identities do not come from ourselves, but who we are is dependent on
the cultures in which we exist
o We also have the option of self-identifying, we can identify with many things.
But because we self-identify does necessarily embody it.
Conscious and subconscious
How do we communicate our identity?
How do we communicate the identities of others?
o E.g. The indigenous
Linking Identity to Social Hierarchy: Race
Slavery (black and white picture of chained, lined up presumable african slaves)
Eugenics and the Holocaust
Apartheid South Africa
o Separation of races; micromanagement of racial interaction
Race and IQ
o The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structre in American Life by Richard J.
Herrnstein Charles Murray: The idea that IQ is linked to race. There are
organizations and groups funding this kind of literature and research.
All societies are socially stratified
o All identity markers, all of the ways you identify others as well as yourself,
are not just ways to identify yourself, but a way to organize society
o Is this natural? Will it happen regardless?
How do we explain the distribution of poverty?
Social categories become ranked and this ranking is linking to power and wealth o It is generally in someone’s interest to rank someone in some way that they
may find beneficial to themselves or beneficial to society
o Class; there is an ongoing struggle. View of society as having different organs
to keep it’s body running.
o Alternative: the way society function is not different parts working together
but by the competition of the parts involved. E.G the brain and the body.
o Race, etc.
Race – presumed biological, genetic, mental characteristics of identifiable groups
Cultural myth – no scientific basis
Genetic diversity within races exceeds the genetic diversity between races
o People are far more similar in other ways besides the colour of their skin
Yet, racial explanations of society persist, pseudo-science and folk explanations
Ascribing Identity: The Indigenous
Definitions of Indigenous From Wikipedia
a. Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them
b. Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands