Biological Diversity & Race Introduction • Humans display great physical and cultural variation – – Such variation is a product of evolutionary (cultural and biological) forces Understanding our similarities & difference is an important part of anthropology Biology and Race Races: In biology, the same as subspecies. – Subspecies: physically distinguishable populations w/i a species. – species. Many scientists claim there are no biological races within the human – Why? Criteria for species to be subdivided into sub-species • • • Some degree of population isolation w/ limited gene flow; environments different enough to promote adaptive selection in different directions; genetic variation between the populations. Reasons why human species cannot be subdivided into subspecies: • • • • Clinal distribution of polymorphisms Distribution of traits are discordant Human mobility and culture Minimal genetic variation Clinal distribution of polymorphisms • • • Cline: geographic continuum in the variation of a trait Polymorphism: variations in phenotypic traits that are the result of genetic variation Human polymorphisms are distributed as clines • Therefore, one cannot use polymorphisms to divide human populations into distinct groups e.g. Human Skin Colour Distribution • • • • Skin colour is the result of several pigments, particularly melanin. Function of melanin is to absorb ultraviolet radiation UV varies w/ latitude – – Sunlight strikes the earth more directly at the equator Adaptive advantage of skin colour Nina Jablonski on Skin Colour Distribution of Traits are Discordant • • • Racial classification of humans presents problems of concordance w/ humans our variable traits are discordant Discordant - the expression of one traits does not predict a particular expression of another. – – – Race by digestion (lactase) Race by blood type (A,B,AB, O) Race by tongue-curling Human mobility & culture • • Population isolation & limited gene flow lead to evolution of a subspecies. Not possible w/ humans because: – – We haven’t been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies culture is our main adaptive mechanism Genetic Similarity • • • Most variation is within, not between ‘races’ Of the small amount of genetic variation, 85% exists within any local population Physical appearance has little to do with the ways people vary genetically. Culture and Race • • • Race: a social category used to classify or account for human diversity Racial classifications are common cross-culturally European racial categories developed in 1500s – – Encountered people culturally & physically different Cultural difference explained in terms of biology Classifications of Human Races Racism Racism: “a doctrine of superiority by which one group justifies the dehumanization of others based on their distinctive physical characteristics” (Haviland p.138) • • Race justified social inequalities as natural. Race may no longer be a valid biological concept, but racism is still real Dimensions of Racism Individual, cultural and institutional racism Institutional Racism in Canada: The Pre-emption Ordinance • • Government policies have created unfair advantages for European Canadians in the past; This has resulted in substantial wealth gaps b/t European Canadians & First Nations people of Canada. – E.g. the abolishment of ‘Indian’ pre-emption (1860s) • This has been compounded by cultural understanding of wealth disparities.