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Culture Trumps Scientific Fact

‘Race’ in US American Language

Augustine Agwuele

in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. (AAA Statement on Race) 1 For whatever reason, the concept and consciousness of ‘race’ eluded me in Africa

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Soo Ah Kwon

Drawing on existing literature and student ethnographic projects, this article examines Asian American undergraduates' overwhelming focus on individual racial identity and practices of racial segregation in their ethnographic research about the University of Illinois. The author examines how such racial segregation is described and analysed as a matter of personal 'choice' and 'comfort' rather than as the result of racial inequality, racism and the marginalisation and racialisation of minority groups. This lack of structural racial analysis in the examination of Asian American students' experiences points to the depoliticisation and institutionalisation of race in higher education today. Race is understood and more readily analysed as a politically neutral concept that invokes celebration of racial diversity and 'culture' and not as a concept marked by power and inequities as it once may have been.

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The “strong nucleus of the Greek race”

Racial nationalism and anthropological science

Sevasti Trubeta

This article deals with the theory of the "strong nucleus of the Greek race" elaborated by the Greek physical anthropologist Ioannis Koumaris (1879-1970), who headed all academic anthropological institutions in Greece between 1915 and 1970. According to this theory human groups were in a state of "fluid constancy," meaning that the "proper" nucleus of the predominant race always persisted in a stable form despite miscegenation, and was hence capable of resurfacing. This theory footed, first, on racial theories challenging the existence of "pure races" in favor of evidencing "racial varieties" and "racial types" and, second, an early Greek national idea according to which Hellenism possessed the ability to acculturate and absorb foreign peoples or nations without losing its innate qualities. The Greek notion fili (meaning both nation and race), and its shifting semantics from religious to national and racial, is similarly instrumental to this analysis. By means of this theory racial purity was not so much rejected as it was relativized, essentially being replaced by the constancy of a race over time. With the shift from purity to constancy, the imperative of the homogeneity of an entity is not violated but, in contrast, supported by race anthropological arguments. Race hygienic theories, in turn, advanced the shift from racial consistency to purification.

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Introduction

Whither race? Physical anthropology in post-1945 Central and Southeastern Europe

Marius Turda

Although research on the history of physical anthropology in Central and Southeastern Europe has increased significantly since the 1990s the impact race had on the discipline's conceptual maturity has yet to be fully addressed. Once physical anthropology is recognized as having preserved inter-war racial tropes within scientific discourses about national communities, new insights on how nationalism developed during the 1970s and 1980s will emerge, both in countries belonging to the communist East—Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, and in those belonging to the West—Austria and Greece. By looking at the relationship between race and physical anthropology in these countries after 1945 it becomes clear what enabled the recurrent themes of ethnic primordiality, racial continuity, and de-nationalizing of ethnic minorities not only to flourish during the 1980s but also to re-emerge overtly during political changes characterizing the last two decades.

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Entangled traditions of race

Physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania, 1900–1940

Marius Turda

This article discusses the relationship between race and physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania between 1900 and 1940. It begins by looking at institutional developments in both countries and how these influenced the most important Hungarian and Romanian anthropologists' professional and research agendas. Drawing from a wide range of primary sources, the article reveals the significant role the concept of race played in articulating anthropological and ethnic narratives of national belonging. It is necessary to understand the appeal of the idea of race in this context. With idealized images of national communities and racial hierarchies creeping back into Eastern European popular culture and politics, one needs to understand the latent and often unrecognized legacies of race in shaping not only scientific disciplines like anthropology, but also the emergence and entrancement of modern Hungarian and Romanian nationalism.

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Teresa Ramos

The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) joins a long history of critique, challenge and transformation of higher education. EUI courses are an important site for the creation of non-traditional narratives in which students challenge 'business-as-usual' in higher education. For under-represented students, this includes inquiry and analysis of the racial status quo at the University. In this article, I provide a student's perspective on EUI through my own experiences with EUI research as both an undergraduate and later graduate student investigating race and racism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). Using ethnographic methods and drawing on critical race theory, I provide two examples of EUI research that critiqued the University's management of race. The first example is a collaborative ethnography of the Brown versus Board of Education Commemoration at U of I – a project that I joined as an undergraduate (Abelmann et al. 2007); and the second is my own dissertation on 'racial risk management', a project that emerged from my encounter with EUI. I discuss both projects as examples of Critical Race Ethnography, namely works based on empirical research that challenge institutions' racial composition, structure and climate.

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American dreams and Brazilian racial democracy

The making of race and class in Brazil and the United States

Sean T. Mitchell

The extensive literature critiquing the weakness of cross-class Afro-Brazilian solidarity is perhaps equaled in size by the structurally similar literature on the weakness of cross-race working-class solidarity in the United States. For many critics, marginalized or exploited people in Brazil and the United States do not have the political consciousness they ought to have, given apparently objective conditions. What if we started, instead, from E. P. Thompson's insight that class is a “cultural as much as an economic formation,” that it is “a relationship and not a thing,” acknowledging that political consciousness is the partially contingent result of culturally specific struggles and utopias, as much as of determinate historical conditions? Drawing on ethnographic research on conflicts between Afro-Brazilian villagers and Brazil's spaceport, supplemented by comparative data on the mobilization around inequalities in Brazil and in the United States, this article sketches a comparative anthropology of political consciousness that attempts to avoid the objectivizing pitfalls of the genre.

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The racial fix

White currency in the gentrification of black and Latino Chicago

Jesse Mumm

clearly socially produced gentrification is, how obviously not natural or inevitable, given how many players had to be aligned to spark and sustain speculation. Race here is continuously recognized and then denied, seen and unseen, clear and obscure

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Margit Berner

This article focuses on interwar Austrian physical anthropology, tracing its scientific aspirations, gradual institutionalization, and wider popularization during the interwar period. Largely concentrated in Vienna, Austrian physical anthropologists debated racial questions extensively and conducted racial evaluations based on detailed morphological studies and in-depth analysis of facial "racial" traits. This method was considered ideal for genealogical studies. A host of new societies and working groups collaborated to develop new methodologies and create influential links to universities and public institutions. Within this context, a certificate or "proof of paternity" was developed to resolve disputed court cases. Not only did issuing these certificates become a key source of work and income for anthropologists and their organizations, they also marked the discipline's crucial shift from a theoretical to an applied science.

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Canon Fire

Decolonizing the Curriculum

Andrew Sanchez

Whiteness, colour and anthropology The introductory note to this special issue begins with a personal story about race and anthropology. I am from the United Kingdom, and my family is made up of people who are White British, Afro-Caribbean and