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The uncanny return of the race concept.

Heinz A, Müller DJ, Krach S, Cabanis M, Kluge UP - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: The aim of this Hypothesis and Theory is to question the recently increasing use of the "race" concept in contemporary genetic, psychiatric, neuroscience as well as social studies.Furthermore, the social impact of "race classifications" will be critically reflected.Finally, we discuss alternative approaches and their respective relevance to biological and cultural studies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité-University Medicine Berlin Berlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The aim of this Hypothesis and Theory is to question the recently increasing use of the "race" concept in contemporary genetic, psychiatric, neuroscience as well as social studies. We discuss "race" and related terms used to assign individuals to distinct groups and caution that also concepts such as "ethnicity" or "culture" unduly neglect diversity. We suggest that one factor contributing to the dangerous nature of the "race" concept is that it is based on a mixture of traditional stereotypes about "physiognomy", which are deeply imbued by colonial traditions. Furthermore, the social impact of "race classifications" will be critically reflected. We then examine current ways to apply the term "culture" and caution that while originally derived from a fundamentally different background, "culture" is all too often used as a proxy for "race", particularly when referring to the population of a certain national state or wider region. When used in such contexts, suggesting that all inhabitants of a geographical or political unit belong to a certain "culture" tends to ignore diversity and to suggest a homogeneity, which consciously or unconsciously appears to extend into the realm of biological similarities and differences. Finally, we discuss alternative approaches and their respective relevance to biological and cultural studies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Frequencies of the different CD–4 haplotypes in four different African populations/regions (A–D) and in four different non-African populations/regions (E–H) (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Modified from Heinz et al. (2011a,b: p. 78).
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Figure 2: Frequencies of the different CD–4 haplotypes in four different African populations/regions (A–D) and in four different non-African populations/regions (E–H) (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Modified from Heinz et al. (2011a,b: p. 78).

Mentions: However, current scientific theories discard polygeny, and the “race concept” has been questioned by modern biological research. For example, Livingston argued some 50 years ago that the “race concept” is not useful to classify human diversity, because it postulates categorical gaps between so called “races”, while genetic studies instead suggest a gradual incline or decline of allele frequencies as an indicator of human genetic diversity (Livingston, 1962). This concept is illustrated by a study published in Science in 1996, which showed that the world-wide distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms and other forms of genetic variations, that constitute different alleles of a gene (and which can be grouped in so-called haplotypes, i.e., specific patterns of allelic variants), support the hypothesis that “modern humans originated in Africa” (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Here, most genetic variants and hence a wide variety of haplotypes of the gene examined in this study were found in Africa. Following the hypothetical route (see Figure 1) of migration towards the Arab Peninsula and then Europe, Asia and ultimately America, haplotype variability is gradually reduced, suggesting that rather small groups of individuals, representing only a limited amount of genetic variants with respect to the original population, migrated to these regions of the world (Tishkoff et al., 1996). The illustration (Figure 2) showing haplotype variants in different world populations (named according to their country of origin) aptly illustrates the concept of declining variability and hence supports Livingston’s claims that modern biologists should speak of “clines” instead of “races” and thus address the gradual rather than categorical differences between human populations (Livingston, 1962). Likewise, in their revision of the 1964 UNESCO statement on “race”, the AAPA clearly rejected the “race concept” as inadequate (Association of American Physical Anthropologists, 1996). Humans come in endless diversity, not in limited groups.


The uncanny return of the race concept.

Heinz A, Müller DJ, Krach S, Cabanis M, Kluge UP - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Frequencies of the different CD–4 haplotypes in four different African populations/regions (A–D) and in four different non-African populations/regions (E–H) (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Modified from Heinz et al. (2011a,b: p. 78).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4219449&req=5

Figure 2: Frequencies of the different CD–4 haplotypes in four different African populations/regions (A–D) and in four different non-African populations/regions (E–H) (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Modified from Heinz et al. (2011a,b: p. 78).
Mentions: However, current scientific theories discard polygeny, and the “race concept” has been questioned by modern biological research. For example, Livingston argued some 50 years ago that the “race concept” is not useful to classify human diversity, because it postulates categorical gaps between so called “races”, while genetic studies instead suggest a gradual incline or decline of allele frequencies as an indicator of human genetic diversity (Livingston, 1962). This concept is illustrated by a study published in Science in 1996, which showed that the world-wide distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms and other forms of genetic variations, that constitute different alleles of a gene (and which can be grouped in so-called haplotypes, i.e., specific patterns of allelic variants), support the hypothesis that “modern humans originated in Africa” (Tishkoff et al., 1996). Here, most genetic variants and hence a wide variety of haplotypes of the gene examined in this study were found in Africa. Following the hypothetical route (see Figure 1) of migration towards the Arab Peninsula and then Europe, Asia and ultimately America, haplotype variability is gradually reduced, suggesting that rather small groups of individuals, representing only a limited amount of genetic variants with respect to the original population, migrated to these regions of the world (Tishkoff et al., 1996). The illustration (Figure 2) showing haplotype variants in different world populations (named according to their country of origin) aptly illustrates the concept of declining variability and hence supports Livingston’s claims that modern biologists should speak of “clines” instead of “races” and thus address the gradual rather than categorical differences between human populations (Livingston, 1962). Likewise, in their revision of the 1964 UNESCO statement on “race”, the AAPA clearly rejected the “race concept” as inadequate (Association of American Physical Anthropologists, 1996). Humans come in endless diversity, not in limited groups.

Bottom Line: The aim of this Hypothesis and Theory is to question the recently increasing use of the "race" concept in contemporary genetic, psychiatric, neuroscience as well as social studies.Furthermore, the social impact of "race classifications" will be critically reflected.Finally, we discuss alternative approaches and their respective relevance to biological and cultural studies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité-University Medicine Berlin Berlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The aim of this Hypothesis and Theory is to question the recently increasing use of the "race" concept in contemporary genetic, psychiatric, neuroscience as well as social studies. We discuss "race" and related terms used to assign individuals to distinct groups and caution that also concepts such as "ethnicity" or "culture" unduly neglect diversity. We suggest that one factor contributing to the dangerous nature of the "race" concept is that it is based on a mixture of traditional stereotypes about "physiognomy", which are deeply imbued by colonial traditions. Furthermore, the social impact of "race classifications" will be critically reflected. We then examine current ways to apply the term "culture" and caution that while originally derived from a fundamentally different background, "culture" is all too often used as a proxy for "race", particularly when referring to the population of a certain national state or wider region. When used in such contexts, suggesting that all inhabitants of a geographical or political unit belong to a certain "culture" tends to ignore diversity and to suggest a homogeneity, which consciously or unconsciously appears to extend into the realm of biological similarities and differences. Finally, we discuss alternative approaches and their respective relevance to biological and cultural studies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus