Re: Ethnicity vs. Race

Gil Hardwick (
Mon, 01 May 1995 11:50:57 GMT

In article <3nqamg$>, ralph ambrose ( writes:
>However, even anthropologists create and use labels. Even
>anthropologists must define the group they are studying. If the method
>we anthropologists use for naming these groups is a cause of fallacy in
>our interpretations of the "dynamics of society," then I feel that
>these labels, because they are a source of error, deserve evaluation.

All human endeavour is a source of error, old bean. That's what keeps
all the priests at the altar, isn't it, trying to make us feel guilty
about it.

Otherwise I suggest that the wise anthropologist might well adhere to
the common language labels the "people out there" use of one another,
and as appropriate endeavour rather to create labels for the various
sets of labels. Wouldn't you think?

>Sorry to offend, I realize that I may have accused you and your work of
>being limited in value, or outright useless. But if you do not engage
>in defining cultural groups by biological traits, then you have not
>committed the fallacy. If the shoe fits wear it.

What are you talking about here? On re-reading I don't know what you
are talking about at all, really.

Please enlighten us as to the fallacy I have not committed if I do
not engage in defining cultural groups by biological traits.

Why would an anthropologist want to define anyone by these "biological
traits" at all? Surely that is the work of the biologist, isn't it?

>It seems to me that the word "ethnic" has a particular connotation in
>Australia with which I, as an American, am unfamiliar. I tend to avoid
>the word "society" (I do not find it to be very useful and meaningful
>to my discussions) preferring "culture" or often "ethnic group." Some
>of our disagreement may simply be semantic. For the sake of clarity,
>let us continue with this issue... on this news group.

Why would you avoid the word "society"? Seems to be quite a good and
useful sort of a word to me. And how does the word "culture" replace
it? How could you mix them up? They are two different things, aren't

"Ethnic" technically pertains to an immigrant sub-culture, doesn't
it? How would that differ just because you happen to be American? Why
bother adding "group"?

An "ethnic" (n.) in Australian slang, on the other hand, is a dago or
a wog who has come up in the world (translated as an ocker yobbo who
still thinks they are dagos having gone down in the world). Asians of
course are similarly no longer slope-heads or chinks, except among
immigrant skinhead Brits (with their bovva boots) who are obviously
just the same old whinging pommie bastards as ever.

Like all the rest of them . . .

He who refuses to qualify data is doomed to rant.
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