Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

Toby Cockcroft (
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 00:20:47 -0400

In article <54ls56$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:


>Our recent global mixing has
>blurred the outlines of the different branches on the family tree, but
>not so much that the overall structure is lost.

Gerold, I think that you are oversimplifying the situation. 'Mixing'
isn't a modern phenomenon but has been an ongoing process. These branches
of which you speak have been and shall remain blurred.

> By the normal
>standards of biological taxonomy, our species does have geographical
>subspecies. You may not like the fact, yet fact it remains.

tries to create difference where none exist. What model do you propose:
the three strains of humans, the four, the eight, or how about the twelve
or the hundred or the thousand. Can you define where one species begins
and where the other ends? I doubt it. Classification falls back on
abstract and subjective archetypes that bear no relation to the 'real'
world. Within all of us we contain the genetic material needed to express
every 'subspecies'. How this set of genetic is expressed in you or I is
dependant on our heredity and to a lesser extent today geography the FACT
remains that genetically we are the same no matter where we come from.
The division into subspecies/race or what have you is irrelivant.

>Facts are funny that way.

We aren't talking about 'facts' here we are talking about western
scientific discourse and the discourse of racism.

You put a faith in the notion that scientific ideas and discourse are
value neutral. That the ideas that you hold and the words that come out
of your mouth/keyboard have no political implications or political
origins. It is time to drop the veil of ignorance and see where the
words come from and how they are being used.

Linneaus, who is credited with the development of the modern taxonomic
model, wasn't only interested with classification for scientific reasons.
As Europeans encountered more and more people especially in the new world
that wern't accounted for by religious dogma there was a need to fix
everything in its place. God at the top the angels next follwed by humans
and so on down the great chain of being. Linneaus refined this model
categorising not only the animals but humans as well. White people at the
top followed by asians and then blacks etc etc. This sort of model,
arbitrary and political in origin, has passed into scientific discourse
where 'scientists' and I use the term sparingly helped to "refine" the
model. Refine what you may ask. A model which has no basis in biology
but ideology. Perhaps several hundred years ago the model had its uses
but it no longer applies and infact it is detrimental to our global
health. Many a person carries this Linnean model in their mind as
implicit knowledge, common sense if you will. You will run around talking
about interbreeding populations and inherited characteristics without ever
considering the origins of the idea and the cultural baggage that you
bring along. We are all the same, one species Homo sapiens: thinking man
(although it is evident that some do less than others).


Toby R. G. Cockcroft MA (in progress)
Dept. Of Anthropology
Univerity of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
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