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Evolution & Human Variation SOAN101 F14

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Julie Jenkins

on 15 January 2015

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Transcript of Evolution & Human Variation SOAN101 F14

Evolution & Human Variation
-origins & evolution of human species
-physical variation among human populations

The Great Chain of Being
-earth unchanged since creation (state of stasis)
-hierarchy
Catastrophism
What is evolution?
theory of change
-influenced by Erasmus Darwin & Charles Lyell
-change occurs through natural selection
process by which those most adapted to survive and reproduce in a given environment do so in greater numbers than others in that population.
-mutations
-random genetic drift
-gene flow
2014 Gallop Poll:
-42% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago
--most of those who recognize the process of evolution, believe the primary force to be God
"race" as a way to explain human variation
--17/18th centuries
--positioned "races" on a hierarchical scale of "closeness to God"
-Religious Comparisons (16th C)
-Political Comparisons (17/18th C)
-Hobbes
-Rousseau
19th C-- substantial effort to classify people into racial categories based upon arbitrary phenotypical characteristics
How does biological evolution relate to cultural institutions?
Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman
- 1810

Ota Benga - 1906
Cincinnati Zoo- 1896
Birth of Anthropology
E.B. Tylor
Henry Lewis Morgan
Social or Cultural
Evolution
Argued that cultures evolve through stages
Simple
Complex
Unilineal Evolution
Henry Lewis Morgan
Focus on technology and materials
Savagery
Barbarism
Civilization
Savagery: Hunting & Gathering, Fire, Pottery, Bow

Barbarism: Domestication of Animals, Agriculture, Metal Working

Civilization: Industrialization, Adoption of alphabet and writing
Social Darwinism
Argued that humans’ evolution was not just about technology & materials
But that peoples categorized as savages or barbarians were mentally & biologically inferior -based upon their race

Biological Determinism
Herbert Spencer
Franz Boas
German born, migrated to United States
Critique of Cultural Evolution
Culture- not just about materials & technology… about complex system of meaning
Has to be understood in its own terms- not in comparison to Europe or the U.S
Different environments, different needs, develop different technologies
Different cultures, unique set of histories
Historical Particularism
Relativism
Critique of Social Darwism & Race
If race is not a biological fact-- what is it?
Race is not a biological fact:
--physical variation associated with populations originating in specific environments
-but does not produce discrete categories of people
--biologically/genetically meaningless classification
a construction of reality- a way of classifying people

"culturally constructed label (classification) that crudely and imprecisely describes real (human) variation" (Relethford).
but..."race" is real in shaping our interactions & our political & economic institutions
--we make it meaningful as a unit of classification
-Why do we have different skin tones?
-How does the process of classifying humans into racial categories relate to health?
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