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Some sectors of the gay movement, for instance, embrace the notion of a "gay gene" to bolster legal arguments pertinent to civil rights discussions. In other words, segments of organized social groups adopt bioreductivism propositions with roots in biology and use these when they devise political tactics for defining and strengthening identities.

He comments on this association:. Furthermore, this approach to securing basic rights and recognition resonates with a longstanding Western understanding of 'nature' as that which exceeds conscious control and volition" , p. How does this digression relate to our case study? If, in the case set out by Lancaster, social movements can draw upon biological reductivism, incorporating certain assumptions into their political actions, then in the debates sparked by the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil," what we see is science undermining some of the cornerstones of identity politics. The genetic research conducted in Brazil shows that what we have is not so much profound, immutable essences but rather the 'revelation' of a remarkable mixing.

With a bit of rhetorical license, one might say that the results of DNA sequencing show that appearances can be deceptive; if we look under their skin, we find that to a greater or lesser extent, whites are genomically 'African' and blacks are genomically 'European'.

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A subliminal message conveyed by the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil" is that phenotypes and genotypes may be very far removed from each other. These are arguments that rely on emphasizing the fluidity, instability, and ill-defined nature of racial categories. Whether linked to the black movement like Motta or, above all, to the far right like Rienzi, parts of society represented by organized groups view the anti-essentialist discourse in the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil" as a 'threat' to their basic assumptions, in varying degrees.

The discussions kindled by the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil" ultimately rock one of the most prevalent 'common sense' views held by some currents in the social sciences, which see biology and genetics as inexorably linked to the proposition and defense of deterministic and essentialist principles. If in Lancaster's examples we see an alliance between a certain line of biological thought and social movements, in "Molecular Portrait of Brazil" a head-to-head battle is waged with science in the defense of an anti-essentialism that is considered 'threatening' to certain agendas in social and political circles.

Throughout this work, we have reflected upon the repercussions of research about the biological and genomic variability of the Brazilian people, and particularly how these studies have fueled clashes and disagreements about assumptions involving extremely broad-based sociopolitical and historical conflicts. Our observations throughout this paper also lead us to reflect upon what an "anthropology in the era of genetics" might be.

Might we be facing a situation in which new biological technologies directly or indirectly feed the emergence of new ideological configurations? Based on the panoramas we have sketched out, we can state that what we glimpse on the horizon is less a combination of "new biological technologies and new ideological configurations" and more a combination of "new biological technologies and old ideological configurations," to paraphrase Luiz Fernando Duarte. We can conceptualize the 'geneticization' of society as a cluster of changes and a way of generating new meanings within the ambit of Western societies, where the new genetics, or genomics, could be a building block and a key driving force Lippman, Commenting on the relationship between geneticization and identities, Paul Brodwin , p.

As we have argued, the significance of racial differences, and their very essence and existence, are being rebuilt thanks to the impact of genetics. One should ask if this new knowledge and technology will radically alter the scenario or if, to the contrary, they will reinstate and reinforce even more insidious and deterministic ways of perceiving racial differences. In practice, what we perceive is that the relations between biological knowledge and technologies, on the one hand, and racial differences, on the other, may take different forms depending upon their sociopolitical context.

We have seen that the so-called geneticization of social dynamics along the lines of the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil" does not necessarily lead to a greater or more ingrained naturalization of racial differences. According to Paul Gilroy, a perspective 'against race' is growing out of the research into the genomic makeup of Brazilians, which leads to a "deliberate and self-conscious renunciation of 'race' as a means to categorize and divide humanity" , p.

Therefore, we must view with a relativizing eye the assumption that a 'geneticization' of society, including even its ramifications in the sphere of identity politics, will inevitably go hand-in-hand with determinism, essentialism, and hierarchy, traits that much of socio-anthropological thinking automatically links to biology. In the complex, shifting field of interaction between scientific knowledge, racism and racialism, local and transnational contexts, and the agendas of the most varied social movements, the genome-based approach to human biological variability is establishing itself as a tool that can refashion the patterns of proximity and distance between "beneficiaries of racial hierarchy" and "people who have been subordinated by race-thinking," to borrow Gilroy's words.

While the ultra-modern language of genes and DNA affirms itself as a highly influential element in debates about identity politics in the contemporary world, the hyper-outdated perspective of race and essentialized differences endures as an element far from being overshadowed, but that is undergoing constant reshaping as it interacts with emerging knowledge and technologies.

Books & Journals - Anthropology - LibGuides at Lee University

The website was online until at least February , but to date has no longer been accessible June It contains findings about the genetic origins of Afro-Caribbean Britons. After undergoing genetic testing, program participants traveled to the regions inhabited by their forebears identified through genomic evidence so they could "understand a little more about the culture which, to some extent, they share until this day.

Not just to ensure the programme's integrity, but also to cause the scientific world to reflect upon [the fact] that genes and chromosomes may represent much more than defining an animal's gender" Cesar and Motta.

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In Santos and Maio , we comment on this construction of the image of a "genetics for the good. Second, the criticisms are particularly concerned with how the work by the Brazilian geneticists was widely broadcast by the international media and with the fact that the findings may be extrapolated into contexts other than Brazil. Third, the comments place great emphasis on technical aspects concerning molecular biology and other methodological questions and are made by someone who considers himself a member of the same community as the scientists i.

According to our society's patterns of race and cultural relations, the definition of being white is far from a question of genetics or biology" a. For Motta, the heart of the disagreement is not exactly the anti-essentialism of genetics, but an anti-essentialism that might spread from its roots in biology to penetrate the social and cultural spheres and become instrumental in defining world views.

He characterizes a legitimizing identity, a resistance identity, and a project identity. The last of these is present "when social actors, on the basis of whichever cultural materials are available to them, build a new identity that redefines their position in society and, by so doing, seek the transformation of overall social structure" Castells, , p. The notions of Afro-descendents and Europeans can be understood in the light of the notion of project identity within race relations. What happens is that to a greater or lesser extent genetics, in the form of the "Molecular Portrait of Brazil," destabilizes key assumptions that support these project identities; hence the resistance shown by Motta and Rienzi.

As Wagley puts it in his introduction to Race and Class in Rural Brazil , which contains the findings of ethnographic research conducted in various locations around the country, "the world has much to learn from a study of race relations in Brazil. For more on Brazil in discussions involving race and racism in the post-war years, see Maio ; For more on this, see the excellent discussion by Peter Wade in his recent book Race, Nature and Culture especially chapters 5 and 6.

Alves-Silva, J. American Journal of Human Genetics , v. Anthropological Quarterly , v. In: Calhoun, G. Social Theory and the Politics of Identity. Oxford, Blackwell. American Journal of Human Biology , v. The information age: economy, society and culture. Malden: Blackwell.

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. O branco tem a marca de Nana. Folha de S. Paulo , Caderno A , p. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Ethnic and Racial Studies , v.

Dr. Spivey's Cultural Anthropology - Chapter Eleven - Race & Ethnicity

Berkeley: University of California Press. London: Routledge. Scientific American , v. Anthropology News , v. Lisboa: Ed. American Journal of Law and Medicine , v. Latin American Research Review , v. In: Crary, J. New York, Zone Books. C The evolution and genetics of Latin American Populations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Human Biology , v. Mana : Estudos de Antropologia Social, v. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar.

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London: Pluto Press. Paris: Unesco. Cesar, R. Received for publication in October There have also been issues of reproductive tourism and bodily commodification, as individuals seek economic security through hormonal stimulation and egg harvesting, which are potentially harmful procedures.

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With IVF, specifically, there have been many questions of embryotic value and the status of life, particularly as it relates to the manufacturing of stem cells, testing, and research. Current issues in kinship studies, such as adoption, have revealed and challenged the Western cultural disposition towards the genetic, "blood" tie. Kinship, as an anthropological field of inquiry, has been heavily criticized across the discipline. One critique is that, as its inception, the framework of kinship studies was far too structured and formulaic, relying on dense language and stringent rules.

Schneider proposes that kinship is not a field that can be applied cross-culturally, as the theory itself relies on European assumptions of normalcy. He states in the widely circulated book A critique of the study of kinship that "[K]inship has been defined by European social scientists, and European social scientists use their own folk culture as the source of many, if not all of their ways of formulating and understanding the world about them".

Polish anthropologist Anna Wierzbicka argues that "mother" and "father" are examples of such fundamental human concepts, and can only be Westernized when conflated with English concepts such as "parent" and "sibling". A more recent critique of kinship studies is its solipsistic focus on privileged, Western human relations and its promotion of normative ideals of human exceptionalism. In "Critical Kinship Studies", social psychologists Elizabeth Peel and Damien Riggs argue for a move beyond this human-centered framework, opting instead to explore kinship through a "posthumanist" vantage point where anthropologists focus on the intersecting relationships of human animals, non-human animals, technologies and practices.

The role of anthropology in institutions has expanded significantly since the end of the 20th century. The two types of institutions defined in the field of anthropology are total institutions and social institutions. The types and methods of scholarship performed in the anthropology of institutions can take a number of forms.

Institutional anthropologists may study the relationship between organizations or between an organization and other parts of society.