Koenig - Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age

Anthropology and Race

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Koenig - Revisiting Race in a Genomic AgeWith another flare-up on race and IQ in the media, combined with papers and presentations from the American Anthropological Association annual meetings, it’s a chance to re-examine what anthropology has to say about race and racism.

Anthropology Blogs

The argument that different races have genetically determined differences in intelligence
There may be a small component of intelligence that is inherited, but it seems to be swamped by other factors. The insistence that genes determine intelligence and that these genes are divided up in our species by groups that are often defined racially is usually misguided, and is scientifically wrong. The supra-ultimate argument, after the final argument, brought up in this sort of conversation is usually that the anti-racist argument is a Politically Correct argument, yada yada yada. But it is actually a scientific argument, and the racialized intelligence argument is not. Making the latter a politically incorrect argument.

Greg Laden’s Blog, 26 December 2011

Anthropology and Race – Seizing the Holistic Moment
The recent redux on race and IQ is an opportunity to revisit anthropology on race and seize holistic understandings to reclaim this issue.

Living Anthropologically, 3 December 2011

Race and IQ, again and again
The issue of race and intelligence, or more specifically IQ, is something that seems to reappear over and over despite being a remarkably unproductive topic.

More on IQ and Race
Race is not a good category to use if you want to look at the biological basis for a trait because it is a transient and poorly defined category. . . . IQ is a poor way of measuring how the brain works, because it is highly context specific and is not, fundamentally, a strictly biological character.

The Evolutionary Biology of Race: Are There Human Races?
I hope to persuade you that, contrary to intuition, and to centuries of dogma, there are no biological races. In short, in this series of three posts, I hope to convince you that the anthropological view of race is sensible, empirically grounded, and that, in the end, races are arbitrary social categories, with political aims in their production, and political consequences of their use.

Anthropology Journals

How race becomes biology: Embodiment of social inequality, Clarence C. Gravlee
The debate over racial inequalities in health presents an opportunity to refine the critique of race in three ways: 1) to reiterate why the race concept is inconsistent with patterns of global human genetic diversity; 2) to refocus attention on the complex, environmental influences on human biology at multiple levels of analysis and across the lifecourse; and 3) to revise the claim that race is a cultural construct and expand research on the sociocultural reality of race and racism. Drawing on recent developments in neighboring disciplines, I present a model for explaining how racial inequality becomes embodied—literally—in the biological well-being of racialized groups and individuals. This model requires a shift in the way we articulate the critique of race as bad biology.

Race Reconciled, Heather J.H. Edgar and Keith L. Hunley, editors
“Race is not an accurate or productive way to describe human biological variation” (Edgar and Hunley 2009:2)

Genetics and recent human evolution, Alan R. Templeton
Humanity consists of a single evolutionary lineage with no subbranches because humanity’s geographically dispersed populations were and are interconnected by gene flow and lines of recent, not ancient, common descent due to this gene flow. (2007:1509)

Evolution, July 2007

Anthropology Apps on Race

Guess my Race by Michael Baran
A captivating game teaching new ways to think about race and diversity. Featured in the Boston Museum of Science. Great reviews, Apps, Afros, and Handcutffs: Talking with Kids about Race (Slate) and Race Awareness? There’s an App for That (Wired). Finalist in 2011 “Games for Change” award!

Race Awareness Project, App designed for both iPhone and iPad

Who Am I? Race Awareness Game by Michael Baran
Fun to play two-player game that teaches kids to think responsibly about race and diversity! Five-Star Review from Common Sense Media. Featured in Parents Magazine, Parent and Child Magazine.

Race Awareness Project, App designed for both iPhone and iPad

Learning and Teaching Anthropology

Better Anthropology
I explained to my students how, despite the fact that race is social constructed and that true color-blindness would be wonderful, that racism exists as a fundamental thread that permeates every context of everyday life. So, to approach any situation from a “color-blind” stance denies the reality of the lived experience of racism and thus exacerbates the problem more than it solves it.

How to be an anthropologist, 23 November 2011
Quick Take on Talking about Race
When talking about human biological variation, I employed the “braided river” metaphor to demonstrate that differences do exist without assuming discrete little bundles of racial groups. . . . It’s problematic that they all so quickly understood the idea of “pure races,” but it does create a visible target to deconstruct.

Torso and Oblong, 30 November 2011

American Anthropological Association

RACE – Are We So Different?
Looking through the eyes of history, science and lived experience, the RACE Project explains differences among people and reveals the reality – and unreality – of race. The story of race is complex and may challenge how we think about race and human variation, about the differences and similarities among people.

Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology
What became clear almost immediately is that the Association does not have particularly good information about the ethnoracial diversity of its membership; it has none about the social-class backgrounds of its members. . . . As one member of the CRRA suggested, “it is time to suck it up and answer those questions” if we want information about the diversity of the Association.


Interview with Lee D. Baker, Anthropology and Racial Politics
Although I am deeply committed to using knowledge in the service of society, this book provides examples of the unintended consequences and the tricky relationships that emerge when knowledge is used within the frame of specific political projects. I don’t think scientists or theorists should pull back in any way; I just hope that scholars realize that when they enter into the public sphere, they may lose control of how their work is employed, and scholars should not be surprised when the work they produce is used in a way that is inimical to their values.

Inside Higher Ed., 16 April 2010

Review of Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age by Robert Schwartz
In concluding an excellent introduction to the concept of race, Jonathan Marks, a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, writes, “if there is anything that is secure as positive knowledge in the study of human variation over the last few decades, it is that race is a very poor surrogate for genotype”. . . .

As for medical science, “race” is a bust. It will probably take another generation of physicians, who will be schooled in all aspects of genetics, and in how genes and the environment together influence health, to rid the profession of its preconceptions about race.

FASEB Journal, November 2009

“Race” Is a Four-Letter Word
A tour de force work by a leading scholar, “Race” Is a Four-Letter Word explores the history of the concept of race in America, the reasons why the concept has no biological validity, and the ways in which it grew to become accepted as an idea that virtually everyone regards as self-evident. An ardent and eloquent opponent of typology, essentialism, and stereotyping, C. Loring Brace has based this engaging study on the “Problems of Race” course he has taught at the University of Michigan for the past thirty-five years.

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