Race, politics and the biosocial being

There has been a lot of controversy over Jason Richwine’s work on race lately (in short, he sought to link IQ and race in his PhD thesis and then, it would seem, in some work on U.S. immigration. If you want the Cole’s notes (that is, the Colbert notes) have a quick watch of Stephen Colbert May 15 show, which is really quite good. View in America here, Canada here, elsewhere, I’m not sure.

At any rate, the controversy is taken on over at the blog Living Anthropologically in a political context, and I’ve put in the first bit of a post from there below. Following that is a lecture from Ian Hacking on the Biosocial Being, which talks about the intersections of biology and socialization, partly in the context of race.

From Living Anthropologically:

Update June 2013: In the light of Jason Richwine and anthropological responses like What Jason Richwine Should Have Heard from his PhD Committee from Elizabeth Chin and How to Not Be Racist from Agustín Fuentes, I’ve re-read the post below written in August 2012. Really, if you just tweak the dates and the references, everything I wrote then applies to the current situation, and is consistent with the comment streams that pop up when people try to confront these issues intelligently.

[original post begins]

The assertion and oft-caricatured mantra that race is a social construction, or the social construction of race, is quite old. Regularly pilloried and attacked, the social construction of race is also defended and celebrated as the backbone of not just scientific understandings of human variation but as a liberal political plank.

As this ritualized game is rehearsed and replayed, it is worth taking stock of an essential but overlooked fact: the social construction of race is a goldmine for conservative political positions. The social construction of race is the gift that keeps on giving, far more helpful for conservative politics than for a progressive-liberal front.

First, there is the unbelievable advantage gained from denouncing and mocking the social construction of race. Second, this denunciation is almost always linked to promoting delusions that the balance of power has shifted to an anti-white bias. Finally, since the social construction of race was never connected to concrete political change, the reality of power imbalances favoring whites is met by naïve hand-wringing, with little understanding of what went so wrong in the post-civil rights era. READ MORE HERE.

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