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ANT176: Race

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Livia Stone

on 10 September 2014

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Transcript of ANT176: Race

Human Variation Facts:
Genetic variation of Europeans and Asians is a subset of variation in Africa.
Variation within a socially racial group is the same or greater than the variation among socially racial groupings.
The boundaries of racial characteristics (skin color, eye-shape, hair texture, face-shape) are so imprecise and varied within populations to make the concept of “race” meaningless.
Ideas of who has darker skin are often wrong.
Are you at higher risk for sickle cell anemia if you are African American?
Enlightenment - 1700s
"Systemae Naturae" (Carolus Linnaeus 1735)
Encyclopédie (Diderot ~1750)
Influenced by 'Great Chain of Being'
Racial Classifications - 1800s
cranial volumes
Galton begins to publish
Intellectual History of Race
Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911)
Miscegenation Laws
Herbert Spencer
"survival of the fittest" (Spencer 1864)
social Darwinism
First International Congress of Eugenics 1912
Winston Churchill attended
Also the American Breeders Association
Five Goals:
Selective breeding - people should not mix. Conducted “Fitter Family” contests at county fairs
Sterilization and Castration of unfit - by 1930 there were 30 states with with sterilization laws (of the institutionalized)
Use of IQ tests to identify mental deficiency
Limit Immigration of racial groups into the US and Western Europe
Use of IQ tests to differentiate between racial and ethnic groups
Coined the term, “eugenics”
Very interested in “great men” in families and heredity (was a cousin of Darwin)
Believed in careful breeding of humans and the innate superiority of British people
Was very concerned that 25% of Boer young men in African colonies failed a standard physical. How Britain control its empire with an unfit army?
Girlfriend from the Caucasus region
IQ test developed in 1916 in France as a tool to help identify children behind in school
13 million immigrants to US 1910-1914
Mainly concerned with Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews
None of these groups were considered “white”
Poor grasp of genetics
Rediscovery of Mendelian genetics (org. 1860s)
Concerned with “germ plasm”
Assigned characteristics such as “criminality” “feeble-mindedness” and “waywardness” to bad germ plasm
Poor grasp of Natural Selection
Evidence to prove that criminality/genius ran in families usually only one or two generations
Natural Selection needs hundreds of generations in best-case scenario to act
"survival of the fittest" is inaccurate:
species survival in changing environment depends on genetic diversity
Fittest traits, not fittest individuals
Contemporary Criticisms of Eugenics
Analytical problems
- could never map physical characteristics on to social racial categories having to do with skin color:
brachycephalic (short broad skulls) = Turks, Hawaiians,Thai
dolichocephalics (long, narrow skull) = English, North African, Australian Aborigines.
Chicago World's Fair 1893
St. Louis World's Fair 1904
Celebrate achievement of USA
Demonstrate sophistication
Demonstrate superiority
African, Eskimo exhibition villages
Race/exotic as spectacle
Problems with 19th Century
Racial Classifications
The 'Science' of race always closely linked to $
justification for slavery
justification for colonialism
manifest destiny
New Conception of Race
Franz Boas's (1912) immigration study
Ashley Montagu
'Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race' (1942)
UNESCO Race Statement (1949)
"There are no races, only clines"
(Livingstone 1962)
Race Ephemera
Can scientists determine race by looking at someone's DNA?
What is the source of all genetic variation?
natural selection
genetic mutation
environmental condition
genetic mutation
Sickle Cell Disease
malaria, not race
sort of
Why do we care that it doesn't correlate with race then?
Misses incidents of those who are not African American
Sickle cell disease is popularly (unscientifically) used to 'prove' existence of race
by looking at a skeleton?
"the science of improving human populations by selective breeding"
(AAA 2011)
is socially, politically, culturally meaningful,
but not biologically meaningful
The genetic variation between most people within a racial category is the same or greater than the genetic variation between those two people and a third person of a different racial category.
Melanin enough to retain folic acid.
Not so much that can't get vitamin D.
For every environment:
Most correlations between race and health are caused by social/cultural/political factors.
Cranial Volumes is bad science:
They used individuals to stand in for entire populations that were defined socially.
Circular Reasoning:
They assumed the race of long dead individuals based on morphology
They used morphology to prove racial hierarchies.
Since the 1940s the idea of distinct races of humans was discredited as a scientific distinction.
is historically, socially, politically, culturally constructed.
Our ideas about race change through time.
Our ideas about race vary across cultures.
Reinforced/broken down (in part) by:
institutions & the state
social convention
social behavior
Historical Construction of Whiteness
Studying Whiteness
'The Other' in Anthropology
Study Up (Nader 1969)
We can't understand race without understanding whiteness.
How is it constructed, maintained and policed?
From 1880-1924 large influx of immigrants (AAA 2011):
~ 2 million Eastern European (Polish) Catholics
~ 2 million Eastern European Jews
~ 2 million Italian Catholics
Era of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"
Anti-immigration sentiment - Mexican immigration today
One of the largest generators of culture of the 20th century
homogenized & naturalized culture
Nazism exposed dangers of eugenics
Soldiers of different backgrounds fighting together
Created the middle-class American Dream
None of these populations were considered white.
Government help for white(ish) GIs:
getting college degree
getting jobs
buying homes
These advantages were systematically denied to African American GIs and women.
"White affirmative action"
(Brodkin 1996)
Whiteness was dually constructed by giving advantages to some and denying it to others.
Is whiteness a lifestyle?
Middle-class American Dream in the suburbs erased some cultural differences.
Proximity made religious differences less scary.
Henny Youngman, a jewish comedian, becomes more acceptable as middle class at the expense of his wife.
Fish (2012 [2008])
Brazil - tipo:
loura, branca morena, mulata, preta,
sarara', cabo verde
This doesn't mean that it's not real.
Race in Brazil
'Racial Democracy' even 'Racial Paradise' part of national imagination
Still lots of inequality and social barriers
"boa aparência"
Brazil in Black and White (PBS 2007)
'Gaze' is a vector of power
Who has the power to look?
Who gets looked at?
Looking & studying reproduces power vectors.
Cross-cultural perspective
1939 - 1945
More acceptable b/c can be as misogynistic and racist and any other 'normal guy'.
Lived Experience
Not talking about race
Seeing racism as an exclusively agentive force. Today it is mostly structural and subconscious.
The disavowal of privilege - Many people benefit from social structures they disagree with.
Pitfalls of examining race
Negative Privileges
Positive Privileges
(Everyone should have)
(At the expense of others)
Being able to go about your life without being disturbed continuously on account of race
Being able to go about your life without being worried (paranoid) that others treat you differently because of your race
Not having to speak for/being seen to represent all members of your race constantly
Ability to be taken seriously when speaking about race and not a 'biased' perspective.
Being able to ignore or perpetuate racism without repercussion.
Being able to disavow white privilege.
Being casual about whether or not to listen to the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of people of color.
White people do not have to represent all of their group. White people/society is understood to be heterogeneous and complex.
“We must be willing to acknowledge that individuals of great privilege who are in no way victimized are capable, via their political choices, of working on behalf of the oppressed. Such solidarity does not need to be rooted in shared experience. It can be based on one’s political and ethical understanding of racism and one’s rejection of domination. Therefore we can see the necessity for the kind of education for critical consciousness that can enable those with power and privilege rooted in structures of domination to divest without having to see themselves as victims. Such thinking does not have to negate collective awareness that a culture of domination does seek to fundamentally distort and pervert the psyches of all citizens or that this perversion is wounding.” (hooks 1995:152-153)
Prescriptive Importance
Those interested in eradicating racism must understand how privilege works.
Privilege has multiple vectors: race, class, gender, sexuality
Important to understanding ways that local and global power works
Cannot devalue research into the seemingly mundane or normative
Anthropologists have to be very conscious of their own privileges methodologically and interpersonally.
Important to understand that we are never 'outside' of situations that we examine.
Descriptive importance of privilege:
State of Race in US
Race is a vector of power in:
Beauty standards
Prison sentences
Health Care
US discourse is dominated by black/white, but is much more complex
DWB: driving while black
walking while black
stop-and-frisk in NYC
'reasonable suspicion' in AZ
Michael Brown
Criminalization of brown bodies
Recent Stanford Study
McIntosh (2009 [1986])
WGS Context
drawing from experience examining male privilege
intersectionality - intersecting oppressions
not controversial

invisible knapsack
Not being worried every time someone in the public eye of my race does something stupid/illegal that it will have personal repercussions
unearned advantage
conferred dominance
It is up to people with unearned advantages to tear them apart rather than passively benefiting from them.
Killing Rage: ending racism (hooks 1995)
"Race doesn't affect me." White people are taught that race only exists when non-white people are present.
Equate the way that white people are hurt by racism with the way that people of color are.
Oppression Olympics
Jackson (2008)
Overt racism has become socially unacceptable.
But racism hasn't gone away.
Where did it go?
Paranoia of White People
Paranoia of People of Color
Was she rude to me because I’m black?
Is the store clerk following me?
Are they conspiring to devalue property in African American neighborhoods?
Are they conspiring to sterilize black people through Evian?
Did they blow up the levies to save white neighborhoods in New Orleans?
Did white people create HIV to kill black people?
Did white people invent crack cocaine to wreck black communities in CA?
role of media
Is he going to steal my bag?
Is he following me?
Is she stealing from me?
Are they making fun of me behind my back?
Taxi driver: I won’t pick up that guy ‘just in case’
Did that guy get hired just because he’s black?
Are all of the brown people taking over the country?
Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (Jackson 2005)
These two paranoias are not equal
Racial Sincerity
"Be real"
Obsession with inner states
The US has come a loooong way,
but race still plays a significant role in:
how our society is structured
peoples' experiences
I better smile at her so that she doesn't think I'm racist.
I just won't say anything because that might sound racist.
Jay Smooth
Our public language and closed-door conversations about race are very different.
We are not (yet) post-racial.
We are not always in control of how others see us.
Our lives are deeply impacted by race whether we want them to be or not.
Systems of inequality rely on privilege/unearned advantage/conferred dominance.
Understanding race better gives us a powerful tool for better understanding contemporary human problems.
Race is really hard to talk about.
It doesn't mean that we shouldn't.
Racial classification, like other classification, was inconsistent and not particularly dehumanizing.
Today's racism is mostly a product of late 18th & 19th Century ideas of 'race'.
Thinly veiled political motivations
Justification of colonialism, slavery, anti-immigration
Homo sapiens have been around ~200,000 years
First evidence of 'culture' appears ~40,000 years ago
African Americans
US pop. w/ sickle cell gene
Extra: Not for Exam
What is different about race in Brazil?
Race is a folk taxonomy/category (emic knowledge)
hypo-descent and 'blood'
The intersections of class, race, gender (and other vectors) matter!
Race, class, and gender are never autonomous from one another.
Concentration on one vector of power to the exclusion of others has historically been a barrier to equality.
Black Power
Civil Rights
Women's Equality
Feminist Movements
Gay Rights
Structural Racism
Middle class and working class african american men experience racism differently.
American jewish women and American jewish men experience anti-semitism differently.
East asian american lesbians and east asian american straight women experience racism differently.
True or False:
Everyone considered black or African American in the US
would be considered black no matter where they traveled in the world.
Men of color criminalized
Women of color sexualized
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