Magazine article New Internationalist

[The Race Gallery: The Return of Racial Science]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[The Race Gallery: The Return of Racial Science]

Article excerpt

The Race Gallery: The Return of Racial Science

THERE ARE MANY today, both within and on the fringes of the scientific community, who are pleading for a reconstructed 'racial science' in which gene sequences rather than skulls are laid side by side to represent the types by which humanity is supposedly divided.

Marek Kohn's The Race Gallery charts the revival of these disturbing doctrines. On the grounds that ridicule is not enough, he chooses not to concentrate upon the more outrageous of theories. This at least prepares the reader for a racism that mimics the paradigm forms and standards of science, and does so in order to claim respectability.

The sheer diversity of biological differences between individual humans makes nonsense of such simplistic divisions into biological groups. But so persistent is the widespread belief in the concept of race that when scientists talk of 'gene pools' and 'distributions', most people still translate this back into the language of 'race'. Moreover, in recent years biological determinism, normally associated with the Right, has been enlisted to support such liberal causes as cultural diversity and the claims of the oppressed. …

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