Anthropology of Race
Genes, Biology, and Culture
Edited by John Hartigan
What do we know about race today? Is it surprising that after a hundred years of debate and inquiry by anthropologists, the answer not only remains uncertain but the very question is so fraught? In part, this reflects the deep investments modern societies have made in the concept of race. We can hardly know it objectively when it comprises a pervasive aspect of our identities and social landscapes, determining advantage and disadvantage in a thoroughgoing manner. Yet know it we do—perhaps mistakenly, haphazardly, or too informally, but knowledge claims about race permeate everyday life in the United States. In addition, what we understand or assume about race changes as our practices of knowledge production also change. Until recently, a consensus held among social scientists that “race is socially constructed.” In the early 2000s, following the successful sequencing of the human genome, a series of counter-claims challenging the social construction consensus was formulated by some geneticists who sought to support the role of genes in explaining race. This volume arises out of the fracturing of that consensus and the attendant recognition that asserting a constructionist stance is no longer a tenable or sufficient response to the surge of knowledge claims about race.
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“Anthropology of Race examines the often disregarded intersectionality of genes, biology, and culture in the formation of race. With bold and innovative analysis, the authors challenge us to consider and then reconsider its biosocial and biocultural foundations. This volume creatively adds to the field a complex and provocative interpretation of the anthropology of race.”
—Lee D. Baker, Duke University
“Mukhopadhyay and Moses urged anthropologists in the 1990s to look at the biocultural model as a way to unravel the racial paradigm in the United States. This exceptional, innovative, and carefully crafted volume follows that tradition and takes the notion of the biocultural model to a whole new theoretical and empirical level. It is a timely and very important volume for anthropology and for our society.”
—Yolanda T. Moses, UC Riverside
“A must-read for scientists and medical practitioners, this volume builds on the vitally important humanistic and social scientific work interrogating racial processes to deconstruct the popular categories that animate our understanding of human difference.”
—Deborah A. Thomas, University of Pennsylvania
“Especially for those readers most committed to biological authority, these papers that begin by assuming the existence of cogent biological effects of race, might provide a more compelling opportunity for destabliizing race than is the more dichotomous sociocultural critique of race as an impactful myth of racism.”
—Michael L. Blakey, NEH Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary
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