Form and Race: Terminological Concepts for the Study of Human Variation

By Strkalj, Goran | Mankind Quarterly, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Form and Race: Terminological Concepts for the Study of Human Variation


Strkalj, Goran, Mankind Quarterly


The author notes the debate amongst Western anthropologists concerning the various ways in which term 'race' can be used in scientific writing, and refers to animal taxonomy in an attempt to determine principles on which universal paradigmatic principles governing scholarly usage of the term might be based. As amongst anthropologists, animal taxonomists used the term 'race' in two different ways, sometimes as equivalent to 'subspecies' and sometimes as synonymous with 'breeding population.' However, some taxonomists use the term 'form' when referring to identifiable and distinctive populations linked to other populations by genetic clines, and it is suggested that much confusion might be avoided if anthropologists applied the term 'race' only to genetically discrete and clearly distinctive 'breeding populations,' using the broader term 'form' when seeking to classify humankind at large on the basis of such identifiable phenotypical characteristics as may best serve their specific research goals.

Key Words: Race, form, sub-species, animal taxonomy, breeding populations.

The study of human biological variation has had a long and controversial history. After lengthy study, numerous misunderstandings of a scientific and extra-scientific nature still surround this field of research. It has been argued several times in the past (J. S. Huxley and Haddon, 1937; Montagu, 1951, 1965x, 1972; Garn and Coon, 1955) that some of these might be resolved by introducing terminological changes. Using this strategy, it will be proposed in this paper that, in line with the practices of animal taxonomy, the neutral term 'form' should be introduced into the study of human variation. The term 'race,' which has hitherto been used in a somewhat wide range of senses, might still be utilized in scientific terminology when applied to distinct 'breeding populations'. In order to justify this suggestion, a brief review of the recent history and the present state of research on human variation is in order.

The debate over the concept of race reached its peak in the early 1960s. New approaches to the study of human variation arose and were discussed as substitutes for the racial typology which was burdened with scientific anomalies and, not uncommonly, negative political and social implications. In somewhat simplified terms, it may be said that scientists were divided into two opposing camps. On the one side were those who argued for the demise of the very concept of race (see, above all, Livingstone, 1962; Brace 1964; Montagu,1965) while on the other were those who thought that the concept of race should not be abandoned but redefined in terms of population genetics (see, especially, Garn, 1961; Dobzhansky, 1962; Newman, 1963). A lengthy and intense polemic between representatives of the two approaches produced no agreement on the matter.

In the USA a team of scientists from Central Michigan University has assessed the prevailing attitudes of anthropologists to the concept of race since the 1960s (see Lieberman and Reynolds, 1996, for a resume). Their results indicated a significant shift toward abandonment of the term in scientific discourse, although by the late 1980s American biological anthropologists supporting the scientific validity of the term and its continued use were still marginally a majority (Lieberman et al., 1989). There is no doubt that due to other internal and external reasons, such as the broadening of interest within the field of biological anthropology and a social atmosphere that seemed to favor interest in human universals rather than differences, the utilization of the race concept was becoming less common in anthropological literature from the early seventies onwards (Lieberman and Reynolds,1996; Cartmill, 1998). Interest in the conceptual analysis of 'race,' which was common during the debate of the early sixties and earlier, also seems to have declined among anthropologists.

However, it would appear that the has nineties witnessed a revival of the concept of race, not only in biological anthropology but in other scientific disciplines (Shipman, 1994; Goodman and Armelagos, 1996; Lieberman and Reynolds, 1996). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Form and Race: Terminological Concepts for the Study of Human Variation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.