Re: Racism and ancient history
Tue, 14 Jan 97 05:35:16 GMT

> Paul Kekai Manansala wrote (I hope):
> > "Wanting a lighter-skinned wife does not necessarily have anything to do
> with
> > race. Even in some African societies they prefer lighter skinned brides
> because
> > light skin tends to mean the women haven't been working in the fields.
> However,
> > they prefer lighter-skinned women of their own race.
> >
> > If you observe ancient Indian art, male and female couples often consist of
> > a dark, or even black-colored male, with a female of much lighter skin.
> >
> > In India, in general, they prefer wives of their own kind. Now how matter
> light
> > a woman's skin, if they are non-Indian, there's going to be some trouble
> with
> > the parents. The bride should furthermore be of the same general region in
> India.
> > At least, that's the case for traditional Indians.

Judith Stroud:
> I have to agree - on the same basis that Renaissance-era Europeans
> counted light skin and delicacy as finer qualities, as they were direct
> evidence of wealth and breeding which the men and women who had to work
> outdoors lacked. It is a matter of economics, not race.

I agree although I would only call it "economics" in the broadest sense.
Rather, I would see it as a matter of status. It sends a message about the
individual, and his position in the group, to all the other members. In
Chinese culture extreme finger-nail length used to do it - in modern terms if
you had finger-nails that long you would have to be rich enough to hire a
key-board operator to get through you email thereby confirming your status
above all the poor peasants who have to do their own and therefore cannot
"afford" to have long nails in both senses of the word.

However, it is more than strictly economics. It just happens that in our
society status is so closely bound up with wealth. In other groups this is not
necessarily the case. It could be religious devotion for example. The key to
it is the setting of boundaries - sorting out who belongs in each sub-set and
who can properly associate with whom.

I feel I am about to be nailed by "Dr" Doug here for wandering too far but,
I really think that this topic is right between the disciplines of history,
social and physical anthropology, and archaeology - my main interest area in
fact. I think that racism is based on a genetic need to group ourselves and be
hostile to those outside the group who we perceive as different. Now that long
term studies of Chimps are availabe we now know that they patrol group
boundries, engage in "warfare" and in at least one documented case wiped out
the "tribe" next door entirely.

Racism is the big issue for us because it is the most obvious trigger but,
it is not the only expression of this need to conform within the group and be
hostile to the "other". One of the few things that distinguishes us from other
animals is that we can abstract these feelings beyond the physical attributes
in terms of belief systems real or imagined - burn witches, hound communists,
shoot the ideological heritics because they are outsiders that threaten us as a
cohesive group. Which on the face of it sounds like a good fitness stratagy
for the group in evolutionary terms.

If we want to "fix" it we have first to realize its part of all of us, to
some degree, and perhaps concentrate on the things we have in common as human
beings. Maybe then we can see that the "triggers" that we instinctively react
to are not a threat in the actual real world. Maybe then "intelligence
measurements" will be less important. (I wonder if anyone has done a study on
this that shows even one proponent of these theories was in the less bright
group? Doubt it some how. Gee, you got me there "Dr" Doug).

P.S please forgive typos/spelling errors. It's my keyboard operators day off,
and if you think this is bad I'm having a hell of a time trying to pick my nose.

G. B.