Race (classification of humans)

Race (classification of humans)

Race is classification of humans into large and distinct populations or groups by factors such as heritable phenotypic characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as appearance, culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. In the early twentieth century the term was often used, in its biological sense, to denote genetically divergent human populations which can be marked by common phenotypic traits.[1] When analyzing skeletal remains, this sense of "race" is still used at times within forensic anthropology, biomedical research, and race-based medicine as proxy for geographic ancestry with some reliability.[2] In addition, law enforcement utilizes race in their attempts to profile wanted suspects and to reconstruct the faces of unidentified remains. In many societies racial groupings correspond closely with patterns of social stratification, and for social scientists studying social inequality, race can be a significant variable. As sociological factors, racial categories may in part reflect subjective attributions, self-identities, and social institutions.[3][4] Accordingly, the racial paradigms employed by different kinds of biological or social scientists may vary in their emphasis on biological reduction as contrasted with societal construction.

While biological scientists sometimes use the concept of race to make practical distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits, others in the scientific community suggest that the idea of race is often used by the general public[5] in a naive[6] or simplistic way. Among humans, race has no taxonomic significance; all people belong to the same hominid subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.[7][8][neutrality is disputed] Regardless of the extent to which race exists, the word "race" is problematic and may carry negative connotations.[9] Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies [10] that define essential types of individuals based on perceived sets of traits. Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete,[11] and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.[6][12]

As people define and put about different conceptions of race, they actively create contrasting social realities through which racial categorization is achieved in varied ways.[13] In this sense, races are said to be social constructs.[14] These constructs can develop within various legal, economic, and sociopolitical contexts, and at times may be the effect, rather than the cause, of major social situations.[15] Socioeconomic factors, in combination with early but enduring views of race, have led to considerable suffering amongst the disadvantaged racial groups.[16] Intergroup competition fosters ingroup biases against their outgroup.[17] Accordingly, when groups find themselves in competition with their designated outgroups, the more privileged group may subject its disadvantaged counterpart to discriminatory treatment. Racial discrimination often coincides with racist mindsets, whereby the individuals and ideologies of one group come to perceive the members of their outgroup as both racially defined and morally inferior.[18] As a result, racial groups possessing relatively little power often find themselves excluded or oppressed, while the individuals and institutions of the hegemony are charged with holding racist attitudes.[19] Racism has factored into many instances of tragedy, including slavery and genocide.[20] Scholars continue to debate the degrees to which racial categories are biologically warranted and socially constructed, as well as the extent to which the realities of race must be acknowledged in order for society to comprehend and address racism adequately.[21]


Early modern concepts of race

The three great races according to Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1885-90. The subtypes of the Mongoloid race are shown in yellow and orange tones, those of the Europid race in light and medium grayish spring green-cyan tones and those of the Negroid race in brown tones. Dravidians and Sinhalese are in olive green and their classification is described as uncertain. The Mongoloid race sees the widest geographic distribution, including all of the Americas, North Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, the entire inhabited Arctic.

Groups of humans have probably always identified themselves as distinct from other groups, but such differences have not always been understood to be natural, immutable and global. These features are the distinguishing features of how the concept of race is used today.[22]

The word "race" was originally used to refer to any nations or ethnic groups. Marco Polo in his 13th-century travels, for example, describes the Persian race[23]—the 19th- and 20th-century concepts of its meaning and modern sensibilities about how society views race date back only to the 17th century.[24]

The European concept of "race", along with many of the ideas now associated with the term, arose in the conjunction of the scientific revolution, which introduced and privileged the study of natural kinds, and the age of European imperialism and colonization which established political relations between Europeans and peoples with distinct cultural and political traditions.[22][25] As Europeans encountered people from different parts of the world, they speculated about the physical, social, and cultural differences among various human groups. The rise of the Atlantic slave trade, which gradually displaced an earlier trade in slaves from throughout the world, created a further incentive to categorize human groups in order to justify the subordination of African slaves.[26] Drawing on Classical sources and upon their own internal interactions — for example, the hostility between the English and Irish was a powerful influence on early thinking about the differences between people[27] — Europeans began to sort themselves and others into groups associated with physical appearance and with deeply ingrained behaviors and capacities. A set of folk beliefs took hold that linked inherited physical differences between groups to inherited intellectual, behavioral, and moral qualities.[28] Similar ideas can be found in other cultures,[29] for example in China, where a concept often translated as "race" was associated with supposed common descent from the Yellow Emperor, and used to stress the unity of ethnic groups in China. Furthermore, often brutal conflicts between ethnic groups have existed throughout history and across the world.[30]

The first post-Classical published classification of humans into distinct races seems to be François Bernier's Nouvelle division de la terre par les différents espèces ou races qui l'habitent ("New division of Earth by the different species or races which inhabit it"), published in 1684.[31] In the 18th century, the differences among human groups became a focus of scientific investigation. But the scientific classification of phenotypic variation was frequently coupled with racist ideas about innate predispositions of different groups, always attributing the most desirable features to the White, European race and arranging the other races along a continuum of progressively undesirable attributes. The 1755 classification of Carolus Linnaeus, inventor of zoological taxonomy, divided the human race Homo Sapiens continental varieties of Europaeus, Asiaticus, Americanus and Afer, each associated with a different humour: sanguine, melancholic, choleric and bilious respectively.[32] Homo Sapiens Europeaus was described as active, acute, and adventurous whereas Homo Sapiens Afer was crafty, lazy and careless.[33]

The 1775 treatise "The Natural Varieties of Mankind," by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach established five major divisions of humans still reflected in some racial classifications, i.e., the Caucasoid race, Mongoloid race, Ethiopian race (later termed the Negroid race), American Indian race, and Malayan race, but he did not propose any hierarchic ranking between the races.[33] Blumenbach also noted the gradual transition in appearances from one group to adjacent groups and suggested that "one variety of mankind does so sensibly pass into the other, that you cannot mark out the limits between them".[34]

From the 17th through the 19th centuries, the merging of folk beliefs about group differences with scientific explanations of those differences produced what one scholar has called an "ideology of race".[25] According to this ideology, races are primordial, natural, enduring and distinct. It was further argued that some groups may be the result of mixture between formerly distinct populations, but that careful study could distinguish the ancestral races that had combined to produce admixed groups.[30] Subsequent influential classifications by Georges Buffon, Petrus Camper and Christoph Meiners all classified "Negros" as naturally inferior to Europeans.[33] In the United States the racial theories of Thomas Jefferson became widely influential. He saw Africans as naturally inferior to Whites especially in regards to their intellect, and embued with unnatural sexual appetites, but described American Indians as equals to whites.[35]

In the last two decades of the 18th century polygenism, the belief that different races had evolved separately in each continent and shared no common ancestor,[36] was advocated in England by historian Edward Long and anatomist Charles White, in Germany by ethnographers Christoph Meiners and Georg Forster, and in France by Julien Virey and prominently in the US by Samuel Morton, Josiah Nott and Louis Agassiz. Polygenism was very popular and most widespread in the 19th century, culminating in the creation of the Anthropological Society of London in the shadow of the American civil war, in opposition to the abolitionist Ethnological Society.[37]

Modern debate

Models of human evolution

In a 1995 article, Leonard Lieberman and Fatimah Jackson suggested that any new support for a biological concept of race will likely come from another source, namely, the study of human evolution. They therefore ask what, if any, implications current models of human evolution may have for any biological conception of race.[38]

Today, all humans are classified as belonging to the species Homo sapiens and sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens. However, this is not the first species of homininae: the first species of genus Homo, Homo habilis, are theorized to have evolved in East Africa at least 2 million years ago, and members of this species populated different parts of Africa in a relatively short time. Homo erectus is theorized to have evolved more than 1.8 million years ago, and by 1.5 million years ago had spread throughout Europe and Asia. Virtually all physical anthropologists agree that Homo sapiens evolved out of African Homo erectus ((sensu lato) or Homo ergaster).[39][40] Most anthropologists believe that Homo sapiens evolved in East Africa and then migrated out of Africa, replacing H. erectus populations throughout Europe and Asia (the Out of Africa model). Recent Human evolutionary genetics ( Jobling, Hurles and Tyler-Smith, 2004) support this “Out of Africa” model, however the recent sequencing of the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes shows some admixture [41]. These results also show that 40.000 years ago co-existed at least three major sub-species that may be considered as“races” (or not, see discussion below): Denisovans, Neanderthals and Cro-magnons. Today, there's only one human species with no sub-species.

Lieberman and Jackson argued that while advocates of both the Multiregional Model and the Out of Africa Model use the word race and make racial assumptions, none define the term.[38] They conclude that students of human evolution would be better off avoiding the word race, and instead describe genetic differences in terms of populations and clinal gradations.[38]

Race as subspecies

At the beginning of the 20th century, anthropologists accepted, and taught, the belief that biologically distinct races are isomorphic with distinct linguistic, cultural, and social groups, while popularly applying that belief to the field of eugenics, in conjunction with a practice that is now called scientific racism.[42]

Three quarter length portrait of sixty year old man, balding, with white hair and long white bushy beard, with heavy eyebrows shading his eyes looking thoughtfully into the distance, wearing a wide lapelled jacket.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was co-opted by the budding eugenics movement as a justification for systematic population and racial planning in the early 20th century.

Following the Nazi eugenics program, racial essentialism lost scientific credibility. Race anthropologists were pressured to acknowledge findings coming from studies of culture and population genetics, and to revise their conclusions about the sources of phenotypic variation.[43] A significant number of modern anthropologists and biologists in the West came to view race as an invalid genetic or biological designation.[44] However, in most parts of the world, and for some in the West, the concept remains an important part of the study of human variation.[dubious ]

The first to challenge the concept of race on empirical grounds were anthropologists Franz Boas, who demonstrated phenotypic plasticity due to environmental factors,[45] and Ashley Montagu who relied on evidence from genetics.[46] E. O. Wilson then challenged the concept from the perspective of general animal systematics, and further rejected the claim that "races" were equivalent to "subspecies".[47]

According to Jonathan Marks,[34]

By the 1970s, it had become clear that (1) most human differences were cultural; (2) what was not cultural was principally polymorphic – that is to say, found in diverse groups of people at different frequencies; (3) what was not cultural or polymorphic was principally clinal – that is to say, gradually variable over geography; and (4) what was left – the component of human diversity that was not cultural, polymorphic, or clinal – was very small.

A consensus consequently developed among anthropologists and geneticists that race as the previous generation had known it – as largely discrete, geographically distinct, gene pools – did not exist.

In biology the term "race" is used with caution because it can be ambiguous. Generally when it is used it is synonymous with subspecies.[48] For mammals the normal taxonomic unit below the species level is usually the subspecies.[49]

Population geneticists have debated as to whether the concept of population can provide a basis for a new conception of race. In order to do this, a working definition of population must be found. Surprisingly, there is no generally accepted concept of population that biologists use. It has been pointed out that the concept of population is central to ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology, but also that most definitions of population rely on qualitative descriptions such as "a group of organisms of the same species occupying a particular space at a particular time"[50] Waples and Gaggiotti identify two broad types of definitions for populations; those that fall into an ecological paradigm, and those that fall into an evolutionary paradigm. Examples of such definitions are:

  • Ecological paradigm: A group of individuals of the same species that co-occur in space and time and have an opportunity to interact with each other.
  • Evolutionary paradigm: A group of individuals of the same species living in close-enough proximity that any member of the group can potentially mate with any other member.[50]

Subspecies as morphologically differentiated populations

Traditionally subspecies are seen as geographically isolated and genetically differentiated populations.[51] Or to put it another way "the designation 'subspecies' is used to indicate an objective degree of microevolutionary divergence"[7] One objection to this idea is that it does not identify any degree of differentiation. Therefore, any population that is somewhat biologically different could be considered a subspecies, even to the level of a local population. As a result it is necessary to impose a threshold on the level of difference that is required for a population to be designated a subspecies.[51]

This effectively means that populations of organisms must have reached a certain measurable level of difference to be recognised as subspecies. Dean Amadon proposed in 1949 that subspecies would be defined according to the seventy-five percent rule which means that 75% of a population must lie outside 99% of the range of other populations for a given defining morphological character or a set of characters. The seventy-five percent rule still has defenders but other scholars argue that it should be replaced with ninety or ninety-five percent rule.[52]

In 1978, Sewall Wright suggested that human populations that have long inhabited separated parts of the world should, in general, be considered different subspecies by the usual criterion that most individuals of such populations can be allocated correctly by inspection. It does not require a trained anthropologist to classify an array of Englishmen, West Africans, and Chinese with 100% accuracy by features, skin color, and type of hair despite so much variability within each of these groups that every individual can easily be distinguished from every other. However, it is customary to use the term race rather than subspecies for the major subdivisions of the human species as well as for minor ones.[53]

On the other hand in practice subspecies are often defined by easily observable physical appearance, but there is not necessarily any evolutionary significance to these observed differences, so this form of classification has become less acceptable to evolutionary biologists.[54] Likewise this typological approach to race is generally regarded as discredited by biologists and anthropologists.

Because of the difficulty in classifying subspecies morphologically, many biologists have found the concept problematic, citing issues such as:[7]

  • Visible physical differences do not always correlate with one another, leading to the possibility of different classifications for the same individual organisms.
  • Parallel evolution can lead to the existence of the appearance of similarities between groups of organisms that are not part of the same species.
  • Isolated populations within previously designated subspecies have been found to exist.
  • The criteria for classification may be arbitrary if they ignore gradual variation in traits.

If several traits are looked at the same time, then today forensic anthropologists can classify a person's race with an accuracy close to 100% based on only skeletal remains.[55] This is discussed in a later section.

Subspecies as ancestrally differentiated populations

Cladistics is another method of classification. A clade is a taxonomic group of organisms consisting of a single common ancestor and all the descendants of that ancestor. Every creature produced by sexual reproduction has two immediate lineages, one maternal and one paternal.[56] Whereas Carolus Linnaeus established a taxonomy of living organisms based on anatomical similarities and differences, cladistics seeks to establish a taxonomy—the phylogenetic tree—based on genetic similarities and differences and tracing the process of acquisition of multiple characteristics by single organisms. Some researchers have tried to clarify the idea of race by equating it to the biological idea of the clade. Often mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosome sequences are used to study ancient human migration paths. These single-locus sources of DNA do not recombine and are inherited from a single parent. Individuals from the various continental groups tend to be more similar to one another than to people from other continents, and tracing either mitochondrial DNA or non-recombinant Y-chromosome DNA explains how people in one place may be largely derived from people in some remote location.

Often taxonomists prefer to use phylogenetic analysis to determine whether a population can be considered a subspecies. Phylogenetic analysis relies on the concept of derived characteristics that are not shared between groups, usually applying to populations that are allopatric (geographically separated) and therefore discretely bounded. This would make a subspecies, evolutionarily speaking, a clade – a group with a common evolutionary ancestor population.[51] The smooth gradation of human genetic variation in general rules out any idea that human population groups can be considered monophyletic (cleanly divided) as there appears to always have been considerable gene flow between human populations.[51] Rachel Caspari (2003) have argued that clades are by definition monophyletic groups (a taxon that includes all descendants of a given ancestor) and since no groups currently regarded as races are monophyletic, none of those groups can be clades.

For anthropologists Lieberman and Jackson (1995), however, there are more profound methodological and conceptual problems with using cladistics to support concepts of race. They claim that "the molecular and biochemical proponents of this model explicitly use racial categories in their initial grouping of samples". For example, the large and highly diverse macroethnic groups of East Indians, North Africans, and Europeans are presumptively grouped as Caucasians prior to the analysis of their DNA variation. This is claimed to limit and skew interpretations, obscure other lineage relationships, deemphasize the impact of more immediate clinal environmental factors on genomic diversity, and can cloud our understanding of the true patterns of affinity. They argue that however significant the empirical research, these studies use the term race in conceptually imprecise and careless ways. They suggest that the authors of these studies find support for racial distinctions only because they began by assuming the validity of race. "For empirical reasons we prefer to place emphasis on clinal variation, which recognizes the existence of adaptive human hereditary variation and simultaneously stresses that such variation is not found in packages that can be labeled races."[38]

These scientists do not dispute the importance of cladistic research, only its retention of the word race, when reference to populations and clinal gradations are more than adequate to describe the results.


One crucial innovation in reconceptualizing genotypic and phenotypic variation was anthropologist C. Loring Brace's observation that such variations, insofar as it is affected by natural selection, slow migration, or genetic drift, are distributed along geographic gradations or clines.[57] In part this is due to isolation by distance. This point called attention to a problem common to phenotype-based descriptions of races (for example, those based on hair texture and skin color): they ignore a host of other similarities and differences (for example, blood type) that do not correlate highly with the markers for race. Thus, anthropologist Frank Livingstone's conclusion, that since clines cross racial boundaries, "there are no races, only clines".[58]

In a response to Livingstone, Theodore Dobzhansky argued that when talking about race one must be attentive to how the term is being used: "I agree with Dr. Livingstone that if races have to be 'discrete units,' then there are no races, and if 'race' is used as an 'explanation' of the human variability, rather than vice versa, then the explanation is invalid." He further argued that one could use the term race if one distinguished between "race differences" and "the race concept." The former refers to any distinction in gene frequencies between populations; the latter is "a matter of judgment." He further observed that even when there is clinal variation, "Race differences are objectively ascertainable biological phenomena… but it does not follow that racially distinct populations must be given racial (or subspecific) labels."[58] In short, Livingstone and Dobzhansky agree that there are genetic differences among human beings; they also agree that the use of the race concept to classify people, and how the race concept is used, is a matter of social convention. They differ on whether the race concept remains a meaningful and useful social convention.

In 1964, biologists Paul Ehrlich and Holm pointed out cases where two or more clines are distributed discordantly—for example, melanin is distributed in a decreasing pattern from the equator north and south; frequencies for the haplotype for beta-S hemoglobin, on the other hand, radiate out of specific geographical points in Africa.[59] As anthropologists Leonard Lieberman and Fatimah Linda Jackson observed, "Discordant patterns of heterogeneity falsify any description of a population as if it were genotypically or even phenotypically homogeneous".[38]

Patterns such as those seen in human physical and genetic variation as described above, have led to the consequence that the number and geographic location of any described races is highly dependent on the importance attributed to, and quantity of, the traits considered. Scientists discovered a skin-lighting mutation that partially accounts for the appearance of Light skin in humans (people who migrated out of Africa northward into what is now Europe) which they estimate occurred 20,000 to 50,000 years ago. The East Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations.[60] On the other hand, the greater the number of traits (or alleles) considered, the more subdivisions of humanity are detected, since traits and gene frequencies do not always correspond to the same geographical location. Or as Ossorio & Duster ( 2005) put it:

Anthropologists long ago discovered that humans' physical traits vary gradually, with groups that are close geographic neighbors being more similar than groups that are geographically separated. This pattern of variation, known as clinal variation, is also observed for many alleles that vary from one human group to another. Another observation is that traits or alleles that vary from one group to another do not vary at the same rate. This pattern is referred to as nonconcordant variation. Because the variation of physical traits is clinal and nonconcordant, anthropologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries discovered that the more traits and the more human groups they measured, the fewer discrete differences they observed among races and the more categories they had to create to classify human beings. The number of races observed expanded to the 30s and 50s, and eventually anthropologists concluded that there were no discrete races.[61] Twentieth and 21st century biomedical researchers have discovered this same feature when evaluating human variation at the level of alleles and allele frequencies. Nature has not created four or five distinct, nonoverlapping genetic groups of people.

More recent genetic studies indicate that skin color may change radically over as few as 100 generations, or about 2,500 years, given the influence of the environment.[62]

Serre & Pääbo ( 2004) argued for smooth, clinal genetic variation in ancestral populations even in regions previously considered racially homogeneous, with the apparent gaps turning out to be artifacts of sampling techniques. Rosenberg et al. (2005) disputed this and argued that using more data showed that there were small discontinuities in the smooth genetic variation for ancestral populations at the location of geographic barriers such as the Sahara, the Oceans, and the Himalayas.

Subspecies as genetically differentiated populations

Another way to look at differences between populations is to measure genetic differences rather than physical differences between groups. Mid-20th century anthropologist William C. Boyd defined race as: "A population which differs significantly from other populations in regard to the frequency of one or more of the genes it possesses. It is an arbitrary matter which, and how many, gene loci we choose to consider as a significant 'constellation'".[63] Leonard Lieberman and Rodney Kirk have pointed out that "the paramount weakness of this statement is that if one gene can distinguish races then the number of races is as numerous as the number of human couples reproducing."[64] Moreover, anthropologist Stephen Molnar has suggested that the discordance of clines inevitably results in a multiplication of races that renders the concept itself useless.[65] The Human Genome Project states "People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other."[66]

Fixation index

Population geneticist Sewall Wright developed one way of measuring genetic differences between populations known as the Fixation index, which is often abbreviated to FST. This statistic is often used in taxonomy to compare differences between any two given populations by measuring the genetic differences among and between populations for individual genes, or for many genes simultaneously.[67] It is often stated that the fixation index for humans is about 0.15. This translates to an estimated 85% of the variation measured in the overall human population is found within individuals of the same population, and about 15% of the variation occurs between populations. These estimates imply that any two individuals from different populations are almost as likely to be more similar to each other than either is to a member of their own group.[7][51] Richard Lewontin, who affirmed these ratios, thus concluded neither "race" nor "subspecies" were appropriate or useful ways to describe human populations.[68] Others also noting that group variation was relatively low compared to the variation observed in other mammalian species, agreed the evidence confirmed the absence of natural subdivision of the human population.[30][69]

Wright himself believed that values >0.25 represent very great genetic variation and that an FST of 0.15–0.25 represented great variation. It should however be noted that about 5% of human variation occurs between populations within continents, therefore FST values between continental groups of humans (or races) of as low as 0.1 (or possibly lower) have been found in some studies, suggesting more moderate levels of genetic variation.[67] Graves (1996) has countered that FST should not be used as a marker of subspecies status, as the statistic is used to measure the degree of differentiation between populations,[67] although see also Wright (1978).[53]

In an ongoing debate, some geneticists[who?] argue that race is neither a meaningful concept nor a useful heuristic device,[70] and even that genetic differences among groups are biologically meaningless,[71] because more genetic variation exists within such races than among them, and that racial traits overlap without discrete boundaries.[72]

Jeffrey Long and Rick Kittles give a long critique of the application of FST to human populations in their 2003 paper "Human Genetic Diversity and the Nonexistence of Biological Races". They find that the figure of 85% is misleading because it implies that all human populations contain on average 85% of all genetic diversity. They claim that this does not correctly reflect human population history, because it treats all human groups as independent. A more realistic portrayal of the way human groups are related is to understand that some human groups are parental to other groups and that these groups represent paraphyletic groups to their descent groups. For example, under the recent African origin theory the human population in Africa is paraphyletic to all other human groups because it represents the ancestral group from which all non-African populations derive, but more than that, non-African groups only derive from a small non-representative sample of this African population. This means that all non-African groups are more closely related to each other and to some African groups (probably east Africans) than they are to others, and further that the migration out of Africa represented a genetic bottleneck, with much of the diversity that existed in Africa not being carried out of Africa by the emigrating groups. This view produces a version of human population movements that do not result in all human populations being independent; but rather, produces a series of dilutions of diversity the further from Africa any population lives, each founding event representing a genetic subset of its parental population. Long and Kittles find that rather than 85% of human genetic diversity existing in all human populations, about 100% of human diversity exists in a single African population, whereas only about 70% of human genetic diversity exists in a population derived from New Guinea. Long and Kittles argued that this still produces a global human population that is genetically homogeneous compared to other mammalian populations.[73]

Cluster analysis

In his 2003 paper, "Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin's Fallacy", A. W. F. Edwards argued that rather than using a locus-by-locus analysis of variation to derive taxonomy, it is possible to construct a human classification system based on characteristic genetic patterns, or clusters inferred from multilocus genetic data.[74] Geographically based human studies since have shown that such genetic clusters can be derived from analyzing of a large number of loci which can assort individuals sampled into groups analogous to traditional continental racial groups.[75] Joanna Mountain and Neil Risch cautioned that while genetic clusters may one day be shown to correspond to phenotypic variations between groups, such assumptions were premature as the relationship between genes and complex traits remains poorly understood.[76] However, Risch denied such limitations render the analysis useless: "Perhaps just using someone's actual birth year is not a very good way of measuring age. Does that mean we should throw it out? ... Any category you come up with is going to be imperfect, but that doesn't preclude you from using it or the fact that it has utility."[77]

Early human genetic cluster analysis studies were conducted with samples taken from ancestral population groups living at extreme geographic distances from each other. It was thought that such large geographic distances would maximize the genetic variation between the groups sampled in the analysis and thus maximize the probability of finding cluster patterns unique to each group. In light of the historically recent acceleration of human migration (and correspondingly, human gene flow) on a global scale, further studies were conducted to judge the degree to which genetic cluster analysis can pattern ancestrally identified groups as well as geographically separated groups. One such study looked at a large multiethnic population in the United States, and "detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population."(Tang et al. (2005))

Witherspoon et al. (2007) have argued that even when individuals can be reliably assigned to specific population groups, it may still be possible for two randomly chosen individuals from different populations/clusters to be more similar to each other than to a randomly chosen member of their own cluster. They found that many thousands of genetic markers had to be used in order for the answer to the question "How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?" to be "never". This assumed three population groups separated by large geographic ranges (European, African and East Asian). The entire world population is much more complex and studying an increasing number of groups would require an increasing number of markers for the same answer. The authors conclude that "caution should be used when using geographic or genetic ancestry to make inferences about individual phenotypes."[78]

Anthropologists such as C. Loring Brace[79] and philosopher Jonathan Kaplan[80] and geneticist Joseph Graves[81], have argued that while there it is certainly possible to find biological and genetic variation that corresponds roughly to the groupings normally defined as "continental races", this is true for almost all geographically distinct populations. The cluster structure of the genetic data is therefore dependent on the initial hypotheses of the researcher and the populations sampled. When one samples continental groups the clusters become continental, if one had chosen other sampling patterns the clustering would be different. Weiss and Fullerton have noted that if one sampled only Icelanders, Mayans and Maoris, three distinct clusters would form and all other populations could be described as being clinally composed of admixtures of Maori, Icelandic and Mayan genetic materials.[82] Kaplan therefore argues that seen in this way both Lewontin and Edwards are right in their arguments. He concludes that while racial groups are characterized by different allele frequencies, this does not mean that racial classification is a natural taxonomy of the human species, because multiple other genetic patterns can be found in human populations that crosscut racial distinctions. In this view racial groupings are social constructions that also have a biological reality which is largely an artefact of how the category has been constructed.

Summary of different biological definitions of race

Biological definitions of race (Long & Kittles 2003)
Concept Reference Definition
Essentialist Hooton (1926) "A great division of mankind, characterized as a group by the sharing of a certain combination of features, which have been derived from their common descent, and constitute a vague physical background, usually more or less obscured by individual variations, and realized best in a composite picture."
Taxonomic Mayr (1969) "A subspecies is an aggregate of phenotypically similar populations of a species, inhabiting a geographic subdivision of the range of a species, and differing taxonomically from other populations of the species."
Population Dobzhansky (1970) "Races are genetically distinct Mendelian populations. They are neither individuals nor particular genotypes, they consist of individuals who differ genetically among themselves."
Lineage Templeton (1998) "A subspecies (race) is a distinct evolutionary lineage within a species. This definition requires that a subspecies be genetically differentiated due to barriers to genetic exchange that have persisted for long periods of time; that is, the subspecies must have historical continuity in addition to current genetic differentiation."
Population genetic correlation structure Edwards (2003) "most of the information that distinguishes populations is hidden in the correlation structure of the data and not simply in the variation of the individual factors."

Races as social constructions

As anthropologists and other evolutionary scientists have shifted away from the language of race to the term population to talk about genetic differences, historians, cultural anthropologists and other social scientists re-conceptualized the term "race" as a cultural category or social construct—a particular way that some people talk about themselves and others.

Many social scientists have replaced the word race with the word "ethnicity" to refer to self-identifying groups based on beliefs concerning shared culture, ancestry and history. Alongside empirical and conceptual problems with "race," following the Second World War, evolutionary and social scientists were acutely aware of how beliefs about race had been used to justify discrimination, apartheid, slavery, and genocide. This questioning gained momentum in the 1960s during the U.S. civil rights movement and the emergence of numerous anti-colonial movements worldwide. They thus came to believe that race itself is a social construct, a concept that was believed to correspond to an objective reality but which was believed in because of its social functions.[83]

Craig Venter and Francis Collins of the National Institute of Health jointly made the announcement of the mapping of the human genome in 2000. Upon examining the data from the genome mapping, Venter realized that although the genetic variation within the human species is on the order of 1–3% (instead of the previously assumed 1%), the types of variations do not support notion of genetically defined races. Venter said, "Race is a social concept. It's not a scientific one. There are no bright lines (that would stand out), if we could compare all the sequenced genomes of everyone on the planet." "When we try to apply science to try to sort out these social differences, it all falls apart."[84]

Stephan Palmié asserted that race "is not a thing but a social relation";[85] or, in the words of Katya Gibel Mevorach, "a metonym," "a human invention whose criteria for differentiation are neither universal nor fixed but have always been used to manage difference."[86] As such, the use of the term "race" itself must be analyzed. Moreover, they argue that biology will not explain why or how people use the idea of race: History and social relationships will.

In the United States

The immigrants to the Americas came from every region of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They mixed among themselves and with the indigenous inhabitants of the continent. In the United States most people who self-identify as African–American have some European ancestors, while many people who identify as European American have some African or Amerindian ancestors.

Since the early history of the United States, Amerindians, African–Americans, and European Americans have been classified as belonging to different races. Efforts to track mixing between groups led to a proliferation of categories, such as mulatto and octoroon. The criteria for membership in these races diverged in the late 19th century. During Reconstruction, increasing numbers of Americans began to consider anyone with "one drop" of known "Black blood" to be Black, regardless of appearance.3 By the early 20th century, this notion was made statutory in many states.4 Amerindians continue to be defined by a certain percentage of "Indian blood" (called blood quantum). To be White one had to have perceived "pure" White ancestry.

The decennial censuses conducted since 1790 in the United States created an incentive to establish racial categories and fit people into those categories.[87]

The term "Hispanic" as an ethnonym emerged in the 20th century with the rise of migration of laborers from American Spanish-speaking countries to the United States. Today, the word "Latino" is often used as a synonym for "Hispanic". The definitions of both terms are non-race specific, and include people who consider themselves to be of distinct races (Black, White, Amerindian, Asian, and mixed groups).[88] However, there is a common misconception[citation needed] in the US that Hispanic/Latino is a race or sometimes even that national origins such as Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Salvadoran, etc. are races. In contrast to "Latino" or "Hispanic", "Anglo" refers to non-Hispanic White Americans or non-Hispanic European Americans, most of whom speak the English language but are not necessarily of English descent.

In Brazil

Compared to 19th century United States, 20th century Brazil was characterized by a perceived relative absence of sharply defined racial groups. According to anthropologist Marvin Harris, this pattern reflects a different history and different social relations. Basically, race in Brazil was "biologized," but in a way that recognized the difference between ancestry (which determines genotype) and phenotypic differences. There, racial identity was not governed by rigid descent rule, such as the one-drop rule, as it was in the United States. A Brazilian child was never automatically identified with the racial type of one or both parents, nor were there only a very limited number of categories to choose from.[89]

Over a dozen racial categories would be recognized in conformity with all the possible combinations of hair color, hair texture, eye color, and skin color. These types grade into each other like the colors of the spectrum, and no one category stands significantly isolated from the rest. That is, race referred preferentially to appearance, not heredity. The complexity of racial classifications in Brazil reflects the extent of miscegenation in Brazilian society, a society that remains highly, but not strictly, stratified along color lines. Henceforth, the Brazilian narrative of a perfect "post-racist" country, must be met with caution, as sociologist Gilberto Freyre demonstrated in 1933 in Casa Grande e Senzala.

Current views across disciplines

United States views

One result of debates over the meaning and validity of the concept of race is that the current literature across different disciplines regarding human variation lacks consensus, though within some fields, such as some branches of anthropology, there is strong consensus. Some studies use the word race in its early essentialist taxonomic sense. Many others still use the term race, but use it to mean a population, clade, or haplogroup. Others eschew the concept of race altogether, and use the concept of population as a less problematic unit of analysis.

U.S. anthropology

Since 1932, an increasing number of college textbooks introducing physical anthropology have rejected race as a valid concept: from 1932 to 1976, only seven out of thirty-two rejected race; from 1975 to 1984, thirteen out of thirty-three rejected race; from 1985 to 1993, thirteen out of nineteen rejected race. According to one academic journal entry, where 78 percent of the articles in the 1931 Journal of Physical Anthropology employed these or nearly synonymous terms reflecting a bio-race paradigm, only 36 percent did so in 1965, and just 28 percent did in 1996.[90]

The "Statement on 'Race'" (1998) composed by a select committee of anthropologists and issued by the executive board of the American Anthropological Association as a statement they "believe [...] represents generally the contemporary thinking and scholarly positions of a majority of anthropologists", declares:[91]

"In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species."

"With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, ... it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. [...] Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances."

A survey, taken in 1985 (Lieberman et al. 1992), asked 1,200 American scientists how many disagree with the following proposition: "There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens." The responses were for anthropologists:

  • physical anthropologists 41%
  • cultural anthropologists 53%[92]

The figure for physical anthropologists at PhD granting departments was slightly higher, rising from 41% to 42%, with 50% agreeing. This survey, however, did not specify any particular definition of race (although it did clearly specify biological race within the species Homo sapiens); it is difficult to say whether those who supported the statement thought of race in taxonomic or population terms.

The same survey, taken in 1999,[93] showed the following changing results for anthropologists:

  • physical anthropologists 69%
  • cultural anthropologists 80%

A line of research conducted by Cartmill (1998), however, seemed to limit the scope of Lieberman’s finding that there was “a significant degree of change in the status of the race concept”. Goran Štrkalj has argued that this may be because Lieberman and collaborators had looked at all the members of the American Anthropological Association irrespective of their field of research interest, while Cartmill had looked specifically at biological anthropologists interested in human variation.[94]

According to the 2000 edition of a popular physical anthropology textbook, forensic anthropologists are overwhelmingly in support of the idea of the basic biological reality of human races.[95] Forensic physical anthropologist and professor George W. Gill has said that the idea that race is only skin deep "is simply not true, as any experienced forensic anthropologist will affirm" and "Many morphological features tend to follow geographic boundaries coinciding often with climatic zones. This is not surprising since the selective forces of climate are probably the primary forces of nature that have shaped human races with regard not only to skin color and hair form but also the underlying bony structures of the nose, cheekbones, etc. (For example, more prominent noses humidify air better.)" While he can see good arguments for both sides, the complete denial of the opposing evidence "seems to stem largely from socio-political motivation and not science at all". He also states that many biological anthropologists see races as real yet "not one introductory textbook of physical anthropology even presents that perspective as a possibility. In a case as flagrant as this, we are not dealing with science but rather with blatant, politically motivated censorship".[95]

In partial response to Gill's statement, Professor of Biological Anthropology C. Loring Brace argues that the reason laymen and biological anthropologists can determine the geographic ancestry of an individual can be explained by the fact that biological characteristics are clinally distributed across the planet, and that does not translate into the concept of race. He states that "Well, you may ask, why can't we call those regional patterns "races"? In fact, we can and do, but it does not make them coherent biological entities. "Races" defined in such a way are products of our perceptions. ... We realize that in the extremes of our transit—Moscow to Nairobi, perhaps—there is a major but gradual change in skin color from what we euphemistically call white to black, and that this is related to the latitudinal difference in the intensity of the ultraviolet component of sunlight. What we do not see, however, is the myriad other traits that are distributed in a fashion quite unrelated to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation. Where skin color is concerned, all the northern populations of the Old World are lighter than the long-term inhabitants near the equator. Although Europeans and Chinese are obviously different, in skin color they are closer to each other than either is to equatorial Africans. But if we test the distribution of the widely known ABO blood-group system, then Europeans and Africans are closer to each other than either is to Chinese."[96] Brace has also criticized forensic anthropologists for using the controversial concept "race" out of convention when they in fact should be talking about regional ancestry. He argues that while a forensic anthropologists can determine that a skeletal remain comes from a person with ancestors in a specific region of Africa, categorizing that skeletal as being "black" is a socially constructed category that is only meaningful in the particular context of the United States, and which is not itself scientifically valid.[97]

Other fields

In the 1985 poll (Lieberman et al. 1992) the results for biologists and developmental psychologists were:

In February 2001, the editors of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine asked "authors to not use race and ethnicity when there is no biological, scientific, or sociological reason for doing so."[98] The editors also stated that "analysis by race and ethnicity has become an analytical knee-jerk reflex."[99] Nature Genetics now ask authors to "explain why they make use of particular ethnic groups or populations, and how classification was achieved."[100]

Liberman et al. (1992) examined 77 college textbooks in biology and 69 in physical anthropology published between 1932 and 1989. Physical anthropology texts argued that biological races exist until the 1970s, when they began to argue that races do not exist. In contrast, biology textbooks never underwent such a reversal but instead dropped their discussion of race altogether.[101] Morning (2008) looked at high school biology textbooks during the 1952-2002 period and initially found a similar pattern with only 35% directly discussing race in the 1983–92 period from initially 92% doing so. However, this has increased somewhat after this to 43%. More indirect and brief discussions of race in the context of medical disorders have increased from none to 93% of textbooks. In general, the material on race has moved from surface traits to genetics and evolutionary history. The study argues that the textbooks’ fundamental message about the existence of races has changed little.[102]

Gissis (2008) examined several important American and British journals in genetics, epidemiology and medicine for their content during the 1946-2003 period. He wrote that "Based upon my findings I argue that the category of race only seemingly disappeared from scientific discourse after World War II and has had a fluctuating yet continuous use during the time span from 1946 to 2003, and has even become more pronounced from the early 1970s on"[103]

A 1994 examination of 32 English sport/exercise science textbooks found that 7 (21.9%) claimed that there are biophysical differences due to race that might explain differences in sports performance, 24 (75%) did not mention nor refute the concept, and 1 (3.12%) expressed caution with the idea.[104]

33 health services researchers from differing geographic regions were interviewed in a 2008 study. The researchers recognized the problems with racial and ethnic variables but the majority still believed these variables were necessary and useful.[105]

A 2010 examination of 18 widely used English anatomy textbooks found that every one relied on the race concept. The study gives examples of how the textbooks claim that anatomical features vary between races.[106]

Views in other nations

In Poland the race concept was rejected by only 25 percent of anthropologists in 2001, although: "Unlike the U.S. anthropologists, Polish anthropologists tend to regard race as a term without taxonomic value, often as a substitute for population."[107]

Liberman et al. in a 2004 study claimed to "present the currently available information on the status of the concept in the United States, the Spanish language areas, Poland, Europe, Russia, and China. Rejection of race ranges from high to low with the highest rejection occurring among anthropologists in the United States (and Canada). Rejection of race is moderate in Europe, sizeable in Poland and Cuba, and lowest in Russia and China." Methods used in the studies reported included questionnaires and content analysis.[108]

Kaszycka et al. (2009) in 2002–2003 surveyed European anthropologists' opinions toward the biological race concept. Three factors, country of academic education, discipline, and age, were found to be significant in differentiating the replies. Those educated in Western Europe, physical anthropologists, and middle-aged persons rejected race more frequently than those educated in Eastern Europe, people in other branches of science, and those from both younger and older generations."The survey shows that the views of anthropologists on race are sociopolitically (ideologically) influenced and highly dependent on education."[109]

Race and intelligence

Researchers have reported differences in the average IQ test scores of various ethnic groups. The interpretation, causes, accuracy and reliability of these differences are highly controversial. Some psychologists such as Arthur Jensen, and Richard Lynn, have argued that such differences are at least partially genetic. Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray argue that "intelligence is less than completely heritable."[110] Many other researchers both in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, for example Thomas Sowell, David F. Marks, Jonathan Marks, Richard Nisbett, argue that the differences largely owe to social and economic inequalities. Still others such as Stephen Jay Gould[111] and Robert Sternberg[112] have argued that categories such as "race" and "intelligence" are both "folk" constructs rather than well defined scientific concepts, and that since the definitions are largely fluid and susceptible to different cultural constructions this in turn renders attempts to explain variation of one in terms of the other scientifically invalid.[clarification needed] James R. Flynn, an intelligence researcher known for his criticisms of racial theories of intelligence, wrote "Gould's book evades all of [Arthur] Jensen's best arguments for a genetic component in the black-white IQ gap by positing that they are dependent on the concept of g as a general intelligence factor. Therefore, Gould believes that if he can discredit g no more need be said. This is manifestly false. Jensen's arguments would bite no matter whether blacks suffered from a score deficit on one or 10 or 100 factors; where it has been found that blacks suffer from a 15 IQ score lower than that of whites."[113]

Political and practical uses

In biomedicine

In the United States, policy makers use racially categorized data to identify and address health disparities between racial or ethnic groups.[114] In clinical settings, race has long been considered in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, because some medical conditions are more prevalent in certain racial or ethnic groups than in others. Recent interest in race-based medicine, or race-targeted pharmacogenomics, has been fueled by the proliferation of human genetic data which followed the decoding of the human genome in the early 2000s. There is an active debate among biomedical researchers about the meaning and importance of race in their research. Some researchers strongly support the continued use of racial categorizations in biomedical research and clinical practice.[115] They argue that race may correlate, albeit imperfectly, with the presence of specific genetic variants associated with disease:[115] Insofar as race "provides a sufficiently precise proxy for human genetic variation",[116] the concept may be medically viable. In addition, knowledge of a person's race may provide a cost-effective way to assess susceptibility to genetically influenced medical conditions.[115]

Detractors of race-based medicine acknowledge that race is sometimes useful in clinical medicine, but encourage minimizing its use. They suggest that medical practices should maintain their focus on the individual rather than an individual's membership to any group. They argue that overemphasizing genetic contributions to health disparities carries various risks such as reinforcing stereotypes, promoting racism or ignoring the contribution of non-genetic factors to health disparities.[117] Some researchers in the field have been accused "of using race as a placeholder during the 'meantime' of pharmacogenomic development".[118] Conversely, it is argued that in the early stages of the field's development, researchers must consider race-related factors if they are to ascertain the clinical potentials of ongoing scholarship.[116][119]

In law enforcement

In the U.S., the FBI identifies fugitives to categories they define as sex, physical features, occupation, nationality, and race. From left to right, the FBI assigns the above individuals to the following races: White, Black, White (Hispanic), Asian. Top row males, bottom row females.[120]

In an attempt to provide general descriptions that may facilitate the job of law enforcement officers seeking to apprehend suspects, the United States FBI employs the term "race" to summarize the general appearance (skin color, hair texture, eye shape, and other such easily noticed characteristics) of individuals whom they are attempting to apprehend. From the perspective of law enforcement officers, it is generally more important to arrive at a description that will readily suggest the general appearance of an individual than to make a scientifically valid categorization by DNA or other such means. Thus, in addition to assigning a wanted individual to a racial category, such a description will include: height, weight, eye color, scars and other distinguishing characteristics.

British Police use a classification based in the ethnic background of British society: W1 (White-British), W2 (White-Irish), W9 (Any other white background); M1 (White and black Caribbean), M2 (White and black African), M3 (White and Asian), M9 (Any other mixed background); A1 (Asian-Indian), A2 (Asian-Pakistani), A3 (Asian-Bangladeshi), A9 (Any other Asian background); B1 (Black Caribbean), B2 (Black African), B3 (Any other black background); O1 (Chinese), O9 (Any other). Some of the characteristics that constitute these groupings are biological and some are learned (cultural, linguistic, etc.) traits that are easy to notice.[citation needed]

In many countries, such as France, the state is legally banned from maintaining data based on race, which often makes the police issue wanted notices to the public that include labels like "dark skin complexion", etc.[citation needed].

In the United States, the practice of racial profiling has been ruled to be both unconstitutional and a violation of civil rights. There is active debate regarding the cause of a marked correlation between the recorded crimes, punishments meted out, and the country's populations. Many consider de facto racial profiling an example of institutional racism in law enforcement. The history of misuse of racial categories to impact adversely one or more groups and/or to offer protection and advantage to another has a clear impact on debate of the legitimate use of known phenotypical or genotypical characteristics tied to the presumed race of both victims and perpetrators by the government.

Recent work using DNA cluster analysis to determine race background has been used by some criminal investigators to narrow their search for the identity of both suspects and victims.[121] Proponents of DNA profiling in criminal investigations cite cases where leads based on DNA analysis proved useful, but the practice remains controversial among medical ethicists, defense lawyers and some in law enforcement.[122]

Forensic anthropology

Similarly, forensic anthropologists draw on highly heritable morphological features of human remains (e.g. cranial measurements) to aid in the identification of the body, including in terms of race. In a 1992 article anthropologist Norman Sauer noted that Anthropologists had generally abandoned the concept of race as a valid representation of human biological diversity except for Forensic anthropologists. This lead him to ask "if races don't exist, why are forensic anthropologists so good at identifying them?"[123] He concluded that "the successful assignment of race to a skeletal specimen is not a vindication of the race concept, but rather a prediction that an individual, while alive was assigned to a particular socially constructed ‘racial’ category. A specimen may display features that point to African ancestry. In this country that person is likely to have been labeled Black regardless of whether or not such a race actually exists in nature.[123] C. Loring Brace echoed this answer stating that: "The simple answer is that, as members of the society that poses the question, they are inculcated into the social conventions that determine the expected answer. They should also be aware of the biological inaccuracies contained in that "politically correct" answer. Skeletal analysis provides no direct assessment of skin color, but it does allow an accurate estimate of original geographical origins. African, eastern Asian, and European ancestry can be specified with a high degree of accuracy. Africa of course entails "black," but "black" does not entail African."[124]

Commercial determination of ancestry

New research in molecular genetics, and the marketing of genetic identities through the analysis of one's Y chromosome, mtDNA, or autosomal DNA to the general public in the form of "Personalized Genetic Histories" (PGH) has caused debate.

Typically, a consumer of a commercial PGH service sends in a sample of DNA which is analyzed by molecular biologists and is sent a report. Shriver and Kittles remarked:

For many customers of lineage-based tests, there is a lack of understanding that their maternal and paternal lineages do not necessarily represent their entire genetic make-up. For example, an individual might have more than 85% Western European 'genomic' ancestry but still have a West African mtDNA or NRY lineage.[125]

Nevertheless, they acknowledge, such stories are increasingly appealing to the general public.[125]

Through these reports, advances in molecular genetics are used to create or confirm stories have about social identities. Abu el-Haj argued that genetic lineages, like older notions of race, suggest some idea of biological relatedness, but unlike older notions of race they are not directly connected to claims about human behaviour or character. She said that "postgenomics does seem to be giving race a new lease on life."

Race science was never just about classification. It presupposed a distinctive relationship between "nature" and "culture," understanding the differences in the former to ground and to generate the different kinds of persons ("natural kinds") and the distinctive stages of cultures and civilizations that inhabit the world.

Abu el-Haj argues that genomics and the mapping of lineages and clusters liberates "the new racial science from the older one by disentangling ancestry from culture and capacity." As an example, she refers to recent work by Hammer et al., which aimed to test the claim that present-day Jews are more closely related to one another than to neighbouring non-Jewish populations. Hammer et al. found that the degree of genetic similarity among Jews shifted depending on the locus investigated, and suggested that this was the result of natural selection acting on particular loci. They therefore focused on the non-recombining Y chromosome to "circumvent some of the complications associated with selection".[126]

As another example she points to work by Thomas et al., who sought to distinguish between the Y chromosomes of Jewish priests (Kohanim), (in Judaism, membership in the priesthood is passed on through the father's line) and the Y chromosomes of non-Jews.[127] Abu el-Haj concluded that this new "race science" calls attention to the importance of "ancestry" (narrowly defined, as it does not include all ancestors) in some religions and in popular culture, and people's desire to use science to confirm their claims about ancestry; this "race science," she argues, is fundamentally different from older notions of race that were used to explain differences in human behaviour or social status:

As neutral markers, junk DNA cannot generate cultural, behavioural, or, for that matter, truly biological differences between groups ... mtDNA and Y-chromosome markers relied on in such work are not "traits" or "qualities" in the old racial sense. They do not render some populations more prone to violence, more likely to suffer psychiatric disorders, or for that matter, incapable of being fully integrated – because of their lower evolutionary development – into a European cultural world. Instead, they are "marks," signs of religious beliefs and practices… it is via biological noncoding genetic evidence that one can demonstrate that history itself is shared, that historical traditions are (or might well be) true."[128]

Stephan Palmié has responded to Abu el-Haj's claim that genetic lineages make possible a new, politically, economically, and socially benign notion of race and racial difference by suggesting that efforts to link genetic history and personal identity will inevitably "ground present social arrangements in a time-hallowed past," that is, use biology to explain cultural differences and social inequalities.[129]

One problem with these assignments is admixture. Many people have a varied ancestry. For example, in the United States, most people who self-identify as African American have some European ancestors. In a survey of college students who self-identified as "white" in a northeastern U.S. university, ~30% were estimated to have <90% European ancestry.[30]

On the other hand, there are tests that do not rely on molecular lineages, but rather on correlations between allele frequencies, often when allele frequencies correlate these are called clusters. These sorts of tests use informative alleles called Ancestry-informative marker (AIM), which although shared across all human populations vary a great deal in frequency between groups of people living in geographically distant parts of the world.

These tests use contemporary people sampled from certain parts of the world as references to determine the likely proportion of ancestry for any given individual. In a recent Public Service Broadcasting (PBS) programme on the subject of genetic ancestry testing the academic Henry Louis Gates: "wasn’t thrilled with the results (it turns out that 50 percent of his ancestors are likely European)".[130] Charles Rotimi, of Howard University's National Human Genome Center, argued in 2003 that —that "the nature or appearance of genetic clustering (grouping) of people is a function of how populations are sampled, of how criteria for boundaries between clusters are set, and of the level of resolution used" all bias the results—and concluded that people should be very cautious about relating genetic lineages or clusters to their own sense of identity.[131]

On the other hand, Rosenberg (2005) argued that if enough genetic markers and subjects are analyzed, then the clusters found are consistent.[132] How many genetic markers a commercial service uses likely varies, although new technology has continually allowed increasing numbers to be analyzed.

See also


  1. ^ See: *Lie 2004 *Thompson & Hickey 2005 *Gordon 1964[page needed] *AAA 1998 *Palmié 2007 *Mevorach 2007 *Segal 1991 *Bindon 2005
  2. ^ See: *Gill 2000 *Armelagos & Smay 2000 *Risch et al. 2002 *Bloche 2004
  3. ^ King 2007: For example, "the association of blacks with poverty and welfare ... is due, not to race per se, but to the link that race has with poverty and its associated disadvantages"–p.75.
  4. ^ Schaefer 2008: "In many parts of Latin America, racial groupings are based less on the biological physical features and more on an intersection between physical features and social features such as economic class, dress, education, and context. Thus, a more fluid treatment allows for the construction of race as an achieved status rather than an ascribed status as is the case in the United States"
  5. ^ Graves 2001
  6. ^ a b Lee et al. 2008: "We caution against making the naive leap to a genetic explanation for group differences in complex traits, especially for human behavioral traits such as IQ scores"
  7. ^ a b c d Keita et al. 2004
  8. ^ AAPA 1996 Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogeneous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.-p.714
  9. ^ Brace 2000
  10. ^ See:
  11. ^ Sober 2000
  12. ^ AAA 1998: For example, "Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic 'racial' groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within 'racial' groups than between them."
  13. ^ Lee 1997
  14. ^ See: *Blank, Dabady & Citro 2004 *Smaje 1997
  15. ^ See: *Lee 1997 *Nobles 2000 *Morgan 1975 as cited in Lee 1997, p. 407
  16. ^ See: *Morgan 1975 as cited in Lee 1997, p. 407 *Smedley 2007 *Sivanandan 2000 *Crenshaw 1988 *Conley 2007 *Winfield 2007: "It was Aristotle who first arranged all animals into a single, graded scale that placed humans at the top as the most perfect iteration. By the late 19th century, the idea that inequality was the basis of natural order, known as the great chain of being, was part of the common lexicon."
  17. ^ See: *Taylor & Moriarty 1987 *See & Hutchings 1996
  18. ^ Lee 1997 citing Morgan 1975 and Appiah 1992
  19. ^ See: *Sivanandan 2000 *Muffoletto 2003 *McNeilly et al. 1996: psychiatric instrument called the "Perceived Racism Scale" "provides a measure of the frequency of exposure to many manifestations of racism ... including individual and institutional"; also assesses motional and behavioral coping responses to racism." *Miles 2000
  20. ^ Owens & King 1999
  21. ^ See: *Brace 2000 *Gill 2000 *Lee 1997: "The very naturalness of 'reality' is itself the effect of a particular set of discursive constructions. In this way, discourse does not simply reflect reality, but actually participates in its construction"
  22. ^ a b Marks 2008, p. 28
  23. ^ Marco Polo, in the 13th century, writes of the North Persians: "The people are of the Mahometan religion. They are in general a handsome race, especially the women, who, in my opinion, are the most beautiful in the world."; Polo 2007, p. 41
  24. ^ Smedley 2007
  25. ^ a b Smedley 1999
  26. ^ Meltzer 1993
  27. ^ Takaki 1993
  28. ^ Banton 1977
  29. ^ For examples see: :*Lewis 1990 :*Dikötter 1992
  30. ^ a b c d Race, Ethnicity, and Genetics Working Group (October 2005). "The use of racial, ethnic, and ancestral categories in human genetics research". American Journal of Human Genetics 77 (4): 519–32. doi:10.1086/491747. PMC 1275602. PMID 16175499. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1275602. 
  31. ^ Todorov 1993
  32. ^ Brace 2005, p. 27
  33. ^ a b c Graves 2001, p. 39
  34. ^ a b Marks 1995
  35. ^ Graves 2001, pp. 42–43
  36. ^ Stocking 1968, pp. 38–40
  37. ^ Desmond & Moore 2009, pp. 332–341
  38. ^ a b c d e Lieberman & Jackson 1995
  39. ^ Camilo J. Cela-Conde and Francisco J. Ayala. 2007. Human Evolution Trails from the Past Oxford University Press p. 195
  40. ^ Lewin, Roger. 2005. Human Evolution an illustrated introduction. Fifth edition. p. 159. Blackwell
  41. ^ Reich D, Patterson N, Kircher M, et al. (October 2011). "Denisova admixture and the first modern human dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 89 (4): 516–28. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.09.005. PMID 21944045. 
  42. ^ Currell & Cogdell 2006
  43. ^ Cravens 2010
  44. ^ See: *Cravens 2010 *Angier 2000 *Amundson 2005 *Reardon 2005
  45. ^ See: *Smedley 2002 *Boas 1912
  46. ^ See: *Marks 2002 *Montagu 1941 *Montagu 1942
  47. ^ Wilson & Brown 1953
  48. ^ See: *Keita et al. 2004 *Templeton 1998 *Long & Kittles 2003
  49. ^ Haig et al. 2006
  50. ^ a b Waples & Gaggiotti 2006
  51. ^ a b c d e Templeton 1998
  52. ^ See: *Amadon 1949 *Mayr 1969 *Patten & Unitt 2002
  53. ^ a b Wright 1978
  54. ^ See: *Keita et al. 2004 *Templeton 1998
  55. ^ Sesardic 2010
  56. ^ "Understanding Race and Human Variation: A Public Education Program". Anthropology News 47 (2): 7. 2006. doi:10.1525/an.2006.47.2.7. 
  57. ^ Brace 1964
  58. ^ a b Livingstone & Dobzhansky 1962
  59. ^ Ehrlich & Holm 1964
  60. ^ Weiss 2005
  61. ^ Marks 2002
  62. ^ Krulwich 2009
  63. ^ Boyd 1950
  64. ^ Lieberman & Kirk 1997, p. 195
  65. ^ Molnar 1992
  66. ^ Human Genome Project 2003
  67. ^ a b c Graves 2006
  68. ^ Lewontin 1972
  69. ^ Keita et al. 2004 , Bamshad et al. 2004 , Tishkoff & Kidd 2004 , Jorde Wooding2004
  70. ^ Wilson et al. 2001, Cooper, Kaufman & Ward 2003 (given in summary by Bamshad et al. 2004, p. 599)
  71. ^ (Schwartz 2001), (Stephens 2003) (given in summary by Bamshad et al. 2004, p. 599)
  72. ^ Smedley & Smedley 2005, (Helms et al. 2005), [1]. Lewontin, for example argues that there is no biological basis for race on the basis of research indicating that more genetic variation exists within such races than among them (Lewontin 1972).
  73. ^ Long & Kittles 2003
  74. ^ Edwards 2003
  75. ^ See: *Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi & Piazza 1994 *Bamshad et al. 2004, p. 599 *Tang et al. 2004 *Rosenberg et al. 2005: "If enough markers are used... individuals can be partitioned into genetic clusters that match major geographic subdivisions of the globe."
  76. ^ Mountain & Risch 2004
  77. ^ Gitschier 2005
  78. ^ Witherspoon et al. 2007
  79. ^ Loring Brace, C. 2005. Race is a four letter word. Oxford University Press.
  80. ^ Kaplan, Jonathan Michael (January 2011) ‘Race’: What Biology Can Tell Us about a Social Construct. In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester
  81. ^ Graves, Joseph. 2001. The Emperor's New Clothes. Rutgers University Press
  82. ^ Weiss KM and Fullerton SM (2005) Racing around, getting nowhere. Evolutionary Anthropology 14: 165–169
  83. ^ Gordon 1964[page needed]
  84. ^ "New Ideas, New Fuels: Craig Venter at the Oxonian". FORA.tv. 2008-11-03. http://fora.tv/2008/07/30/New_Ideas_New_Fuels_Craig_Venter_at_the_Oxonian#chapter_17. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  85. ^ Palmié, Stephan (May 2007). "Genomics, divination, 'racecraft'". American Ethnologist 34: 205–22. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.2.205. 
  86. ^ Mevorach, Katya Gibel (2007). "Race, racism, and academic complicity". American Ethnologist 34: 238. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.2.238. 
  87. ^ Nobles 2000
  88. ^ "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity". Office of Management and Budget. 1997-10-30. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/1997standards.html. Retrieved 2009-03-19.  Also: U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data and B03002. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE; 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
  89. ^ Harris 1980
  90. ^ Lieberman, Leonard; Kirk, Rodney C.; Littlefield, Alice (2003). "Perishing Paradigm: Race1931-99". American Anthropologist 105: 110. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.110. 
    A following article in the same issue questions the precise rate of decline, but from their opposing perspective agrees that the Negroid/Caucasoid/Mongoloid paradigm has fallen into near-total disfavor: Cartmill, Matt; Brown, Kaye (2003). "Surveying the Race Concept: A Reply to Lieberman, Kirk, and Littlefield". American Anthropologist 105: 114. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.114. 
  91. ^ "American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race"". Aaanet.org. 1998-05-17. http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  92. ^ Bindon, Jim. University of Alabama. "Post World War II". 2005. August 28, 2006.
  93. ^ Lieberman, L (February 2001). "How "Caucasoids" got such big crania and why they shrank. From Morton to Rushton." (PDF). Current anthropology 42 (1): 69–95. doi:10.1086/318434. PMID 14992214. http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushtonpdfs/Lieberman2001CA.pdf. 
  94. ^ Štrkalj, Goran (2007). "The Status of the Race Concept in Contemporary Biological Anthropology: A Review" (PDF). Anthropologist. http://www.krepublishers.com%2F02-Journals%2FT-Anth%2FAnth-09-0-000-000-2007-Web%2FAnth-09-1-000-000-2007-Abst-PDF%2FAnth-09-1-073-078-2007-422-%2520%258Atrkalj-G%2FAnth-09-1-073-078-2007-422-%2520%258Atrkalj-G-Tt.pdf. 
  95. ^ a b Does race exist? A proponent’s perspective. Gill GW. (2000) PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/gill.html
  96. ^ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/brace.html
  97. ^ C. Loring Brace, 1995. "Region Does not Mean "Race"--Reality Versus Convention in Forensic Anthropology," Journal of Forensic Sciences 40 (#2): 29-33.
  98. ^ Frederick P. Rivara and Laurence Finberg, "Use of the Terms Race and Ethnicity," Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 155, no. 2 (2001): 119. "In future issues of the ARCHIVES, we ask authors to not use race and ethnicity when there is no biological, scientific, or sociological reason for doing so. Race or ethnicity should not be used as explanatory variables, when the underlying constructs are variables that can, and should, be measured directly (eg, educational level of subjects, household income of the families, single vs 2-parent households, employment of parents, owning vs renting one's home, and other measures of socioeconomic status). In contrast, the recent attention on decreasing health disparities uses race and ethnicity not as explanatory variables but as ways of examining the underlying sociocultural reasons for these disparities and appropriately targeting attention and resources on children and adolescents with poorer health. In select issues and questions such as these, use of race and ethnicity is appropriate."
  99. ^ See program announcement and requests for grant applications at the NIH website, at nih.gov.
  100. ^ Robert S. Schwartz, "Racial Profiling in Medical Research," The New England Journal of Medicine, 344 (no, 18, May 3, 2001)
  101. ^ Lieberman, Leonard, Raymond E. Hampton, Alice Littlefield, and Glen Hallead. 1992. "Race in Biology and Anthropology: A Study of College Texts and Professors." Journal of Research in Science Teaching 29 (3): 301–21.
  102. ^ Reconstructing Race in Science and Society:Biology Textbooks, 1952–2002, Ann Morning, American Journal of Sociology. 2008;114 Suppl:S106-37.
  103. ^ Gissis, S (2008). "When is ‘race’ a race? 1946–2003☆". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (4): 437–450. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2008.09.006. PMID 19026975.  edit
  104. ^ The presentation of human biological diversity in sport and exercise science textbooks: the example of "race.", Christopher J. Hallinan, Journal of Sport Behavior, March 1994
  105. ^ The conceptualization and operationalization of race and ethnicity by health services researchers, Susan Moscou, Nursing Inquiry, Volume 15, Issue 2, pages 94–105, June 2008
  106. ^ Human Biological Variation in Anatomy Textbooks: The Role of Ancestry, Goran Štrkalj and Veli Solyali, Studies on Ethno-Medicine, 4(3): 157-161 (2010)
  107. ^ Kaszycka, Katarzyna A.; Strziko, Jan (2003). "'Race' Still an Issue for Physical Anthropology? Results of Polish Studies Seen in the Light of the U.S. Findings". American Anthropologist 105: 116–24. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.116. 
  108. ^ The race concept in six regions: variation without consensus, Lieberman L, Kaszycka KA, Martinez Fuentes AJ, Yablonsky L, Kirk RC, Strkalj G, Wang Q, Sun L., Coll Antropol. 2004 Dec;28(2):907-21, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15666627
  109. ^ Current Views of European Anthropologists on Race: Influence of Educational and Ideological Background, Katarzyna A. Kaszycka, Goran Štrkalj, Jan Strzalko, American Anthropologist Volume 111, Issue 1, pages 43–56, March 2009, DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1433.2009.01076.x
  110. ^ Herrnstein & Murray 1996, pp. 413–414
  111. ^ Gould, S. J. (1981). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. passim
  112. ^ Sternberg, Grigorenko, Kidd (2005). "Intelligence, race, and genetics". American Psychologist 60: 1. 
  113. ^ Flynn J. R. (1999). "Evidence against Rushton: The Genetic Loading of the Wisc-R Subtests and the Causes of Between-Group IQ Differences". Personality and Individual Differences 26: 373–93. 
  114. ^ Office of Minority Health
  115. ^ a b c Risch et al. 2002
  116. ^ a b Condit et al. 2003
  117. ^ Lee et al. 2008
  118. ^ Kahn, J. (2009). "Beyond BiDil: the Expanding Embrace of Race in Biomedical Research and Product Development" (PDF). St. Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy 3: 61–92. http://law.slu.edu/healthlaw/journal/archives/Kahn_Article.pdf. Retrieved 30 December 2010. ; In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration licensed a drug, BiDil, targeted specifically for the treatment of heart disease in African Americans. The recommendation of the drug for "blacks" is criticized because clinical trials were limited only to self-identified African Americans. It has been conceded by the trial investigators that there is no basis to claim the drug works differently in any other population. However, being approved and marketed to African Americans only, that specificity alone has been used in turn to claim genetic differences.
  119. ^ In summary, Condit et al. (2003) argues that, in order to predict the clinical success of pharmacogenomic research, scholars must conduct subsidiary research on two fronts: Science, wherein the degree of correspondence between popular and professional racial categories can be assessed; and society at large, through which attitudinal factors moderate the relationship between scientific soundness and societal acceptance. To accept race-as-proxy, then, may be necessary but insufficient to solidify the future of race-based pharmacogenomics.
  120. ^ "FBI – Most Wanted – The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives". http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm. 
  121. ^ Abraham 2009
  122. ^ Willing 2005
  123. ^ a b Sauer 1992
  124. ^ Brace CL. 1995. J Forensic Sci. Mar;40(2):171-5. Region does not mean "race"--reality versus convention in forensic anthropology.
  125. ^ a b Shriver & Kittles 2004
  126. ^ Hammer MF, Redd AJ, Wood ET, et al. (June 2000). "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97 (12): 6769–74. Bibcode 2000PNAS...97.6769H. doi:10.1073/pnas.100115997. PMC 18733. PMID 10801975. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=18733. 
  127. ^ Thomas MG, Skorecki K, Ben-Ami H, Parfitt T, Bradman N, Goldstein DB (July 1998). "Origins of Old Testament priests". Nature 394 (6689): 138–40. Bibcode 1998Natur.394..138T. doi:10.1038/28083. PMID 9671297. 
  128. ^ El-Haj, Nadia ABU (2007). "Rethinking genetic genealogy: A response to Stephan Palmié". American Ethnologist 34: 223. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.2.223. 
  129. ^ Palmié, Stephan (2007). "Rejoinder: Genomic moonlighting, Jewish cyborgs, and Peircian abduction". American Ethnologist 34: 245. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.2.245. 
  130. ^ Frank, Reanne. Back with a Vengeance: the Reemergence of a Biological Conceptualization of Race in Research on Race/Ethnic Disparities in Health. http://paa2006.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=61713. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  131. ^ Rotimi CN (December 2003). "Genetic ancestry tracing and the African identity: a double-edged sword?". Developing World Bioethics 3 (2): 151–8. doi:10.1046/j.1471-8731.2003.00071.x. PMID 14768647. 
  132. ^ Rosenberg NA, Mahajan S, Ramachandran S, Zhao C, Pritchard JK, Feldman MW (December 2005). "Clines, clusters, and the effect of study design on the inference of human population structure". PLoS Genetics 1 (6): e70. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0010070. PMC 1310579. PMID 16355252. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1310579. 


External links

Official statements and standards

Popular press


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Race (classification of human beings) — The term race or racial group usually refers to the concept of categorizing humans into populations or groups on the basis of various sets of characteristics. [http://www.physanth.org/positions/race.html AAPA Statement on Biological Aspects of… …   Wikipedia

  • Race and crime in the United States — Race Classification Race (classification of humans) Genetics …   Wikipedia

  • Race and ethnicity in the United States Census — Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Census Bureau, are self identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they… …   Wikipedia

  • Race and intelligence — Human intelligence Abilities and Traits …   Wikipedia

  • race — race1 /rays/, n., v., raced, racing. n. 1. a contest of speed, as in running, riding, driving, or sailing. 2. races, a series of races, usually of horses or dogs, run at a set time over a regular course: They spent a day at the races. 3. any… …   Universalium

  • Race — /rays/, n. Cape, a cape at the SE extremity of Newfoundland. * * * I Term once commonly used in physical anthropology to denote a division of humankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a… …   Universalium

  • Historical race concepts — Race Classification Race (classification of humans) Genetics …   Wikipedia

  • Cross-race effect — Race Classification Race (classification of humans) Genetics …   Wikipedia

  • race — I. /reɪs / (say rays) noun 1. a contest of speed, as in running, riding, driving, sailing, etc. 2. (plural) a series of races, especially horseraces or greyhound races run at a set time over a regular course. 3. any contest or competition: an… …  

  • Color terminology for race — Map of indigenous skin color distribution in the world based on Von Luschan s chromatic scale …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”