Lecture #9.docx

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2 Apr 2012

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Today: The Mid-Century Critique of Natural Kinds
New scientific position on Race, post WWII
o Based on cultural anthropology and population genetics
Emergence of “culture” as an object of scientific study
o Culture rather than nature as major cause of difference
Culture as grounds for new racism
o Culture is rendered static and essentialist
o Rise of internal critique of white primacy
o Rise of scientific anti-racism
The Career of Sex and Race as Biological Categories
18th and 19thc:
o Racial and sexual differences as natural
o Biological determinism enlisted to varying degrees of citizenship, colonialism, social
o Hierarchies built around: physical differences, mental ability, evolutionary stages of
development, xenophobia etc.
First half of the 20thc: Creeping problems
o Countless typologies of supposed races
o No agreement on number of so-called races
o IQ tests disproved any link between ‘race’ and intelligence
o Anthropometric measurements and genealogies debunked notion of ‘pure races’
In short
o Scientists sought to discover fixed natural kinds within the human species but ‘race’
proved impossible to pin down
What are Natural Kinds? (theoretical side)
o Independent of humans
o Dictated by nature
o Independence provides justification for generalization
o Natural kinds are static and have essences
o A shared set of properties that all individuals in a group posses
o Example: the Chemical elements can be named and arranged in a very tidy way. Trying
to do this with people
o The emerging critique of race within the sciences was based in large part on the inability
of experts to sort racial categories into a definitive classification system
Critique of race also result of post-1945 historical context:
o Europe
Britain, France, Germany devastated by WWII
Holocaust revealed eugenics as industrialized murder
Widespread horror at extremes of Nazi science
o Additional Developments:
Formation of United Nations (emphasis on universalism)
Beginning of Cold War (American race relations scrutinized)
USSR calling out US for segregation of blacks. Trying to discredit the US
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