1/30 - The Social (and Legal) Construction of Race in Historical Perspective

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University of California - San Diego
SOCI 139
Vanesa Ribas

I. Race in historical perspective A. How race categories have been developed, deployed, and shifted. B. Informed the process of census taking. II. What we refer to as race is not an empirical reality. Not a biological fact A. Race is socially constructed. 1. Distinguishing people based on race is because they have a certain type of characteristics (phenotypic) look. 2. Race is not biological, not genetics, not any of DNA-- it is a social construction. B. Sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant, race is "a concept which signified and symbolizes social conflicts and interests referring to different types of human bodies." C. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham understands race to have various "face"; it is at once a "social construction," " a highly contested representation of relations of power between social categories by which individuals are identified and identify themselves, "a myth" "a global sign" and a metal language" 1. They share very important fundamental similarities -- but they are not the same. Categories, historical events that created race in these societies bears important differences. D. Nobles refers to race as a discourse. 1. Discussion: a) ambiguously defined subject which is a common referent for many people b) common reference point, “American Dream,” is a discourse that all of us having experienced living in this society -- occupying a position in the stratification of this society. (1) What it means to achieve, to beAmerican. c) Thinking of race as biological it is given a naturalism that it normally does not have. d) We thin
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