This project reveals the false conceptual space within which the contemporary debate about the nature of race is taking place. There is an implied spectrum within philosophical discussions of the nature of race that ranges from purely biological accounts of race to purely socially constructed accounts of race. In reality, no account of race can be given which exists at either extreme of the spectrum. The same discussion also applies to accounts of ethnicity. Ethnicity, though typically thought of as a non-biological entity, can be shown to be the result of a combination of nature and nurture or biological and social effects. In this project I examine six contemporary positions on race and ethnicity and illustrate how each makes the assumption that race and ethnicity are two distinct concepts. These positions include those proposed by Naomi Zack, Sally Haslanger, Joshua Glasgow, Linda Martin Alcoff, Robin Andreasen and Jorge J. E. Gracia.
Susan L. Smith
Towards a Re-statement
Central in clearing the ground around the standing of the concept of 'race' are two positions with which we need to come to terms. The first is what I call 'the science' position and the second 'racial realism'. Neither of the positions is coherent and homogeneous. Neither, also, self-consciously projects itself as a political position in response to the other. In this contribution I attempt to bring these positions into a clearer juxtaposition with a view to developing a statement about the value of 'race' as an analytic concept. in taking this expository route I lay out what 'the science' position is in the first part of the discussion and proceed to engage with 'racial realism' in a second. The premise with which the 'science position' begins, adumbrated above, is the argument that 'race' cannot be empirically demonstrated. It takes its substance from the historical time and place in which it finds itself. In the Althusserian sense its materiality is in the effects of ideology. The second position of racial realism argues that the science position is naïve and fails to understand the materiality of 'race'. The focus of this paper is the second position. It looks at the issues and shortcomings of this position.
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.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther and Jonathan Michael Kaplan
All eyes are turned towards genomic data and models as the source of knowledge about whether human races exist or not. Will genomic science make the final decision about whether racial realism (e.g. racial population naturalism) or anti-realism (e.g. racial scepticism) is correct? We think not. The results of even our best and most impressive genomic technologies under-determine whether biogenomic races exist, or not. First, different sub-disciplines of biology interested in population structure employ distinct concepts, aims, measures and models, producing cross-cutting categorisations of population subdivisions rather than a single, universal biogenomic concept of 'race.' Second, within each sub-discipline (e.g. phylogenetics, conservation biology), genomic results are consistent with, and map multiply to, racial realism and anti-realism. Indeed, racial ontologies are constructed conventionally, rather than discovered. We thus defend a constructivist conventionalism about biogenomic racial ontology. Choices and conventions must always be made in identifying particular kinds of groups. Political agendas, social programmes, and moral questions premised on the existence of naturalistic race should accept that no scientifically grounded racial ontology is forthcoming, and adjust presumptions, practices and projects accordingly.
Racial nationalism and anthropological science
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.
‘Race’ in US American Language
Once described as humankind’s most dangerous myth, ‘race’ remains a most contentious concept: it is defined one way but used in another. This article examines the use of the term ‘race’ in the utterances of American opinion leaders (scholars and the judiciary, executive, and media) and employs it to explore the dissonance between substantiated knowledge and cultural impositions and the manner in which customary norms outperform scientific facts in everyday interactions. Arguing that the use of the word ‘race’ by opinion leaders furthers its socio-culturally assumed connotations and excites associated emotions and worldviews, the article asks if the change in behavior expected from learning ever occurs in social matters and what the responsibilities of (American) elites are in providing purposeful leadership toward a just and fair society.
Watching Politics of Race at the Ballpark
Thomas D. Bunting
Drawing on recent literature on political spectatorship, I show how sport, and baseball in particular, can both illuminate and shape American politics. Following the history of racial segregation and immigrant assimilation in baseball, one sees that it mirrors American race politics on the whole. I argue that Jackie Robinson and the desegregation of baseball changed both American politics and the horizons within which citizens think. Although it is tempting to focus on this positive and emergent moment, I argue that for the most part, looking at the history of race in baseball shows instead coded language that reinforces racial stereotypes. This example of baseball and race shows how powerful spectatorship can be in the democratic world. Spectatorship need not be passive but can be an important sphere of activity in democratic life.
Whither race? Physical anthropology in post-1945 Central and Southeastern Europe
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.
Physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania, 1900–1940
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.
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.