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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Deconstructing Race: Biological or Social Concept?


Location: Poznań, Poland
Date: 28 Aug 11:00 - 15:30


Room 2.103

Race as a scientific concept arose in Europe in the eighteenth century, with the idea that humans can be subdivided into groups (subspecies) based on a set of morphological features and common geographic origin. Since the 1960s, an increasing number of anthropologists, especially in the United States, have successfully argued that biological race does not exist and emphasized that race is a socio-cultural construct. However, implicit assumptions of the race concept have not been eradicated. Moreover, in the current political climate, we are seeing the rise of nationalism and associated racial narratives that explicitly biologize social groups and construct geographic variation racially. Recently, some scientists have supported this narrative by publicly asserting that biological differences between human groups is evidence of the existence of race. This is an important time for anthropologists to work together, across sub-disciplines, to engage with race and we think this special IUAES Inter-Congress is an ideal venue. This panel will emphasize changes in the meaning of ‘race’ over time, paying special attention to the concept of race in modern research. The panel will bring together international scholars of biological and cultural anthropology to explore ways to develop and promote a shared anthropological perspective on race and human diversity. We will address both the resurgence of the race concept itself in science and society, and also the effects that the implicit assumptions of race have on the production of knowledge in anthropology.


  • P 19.1
    • Dr. Kaszycka, Katarzyna A. (Institute of Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University)
    • Dr. Caspari, Rachel (Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Central Michigan University)
  • P 19.2
    • Dr. Kaszycka, Katarzyna A. (Institute of Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University)
    • Dr. Caspari, Rachel (Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Central Michigan University)

Timetable | Contribution List

Displaying 7 contributions out of 7
Race, once the core concept in physical anthropology, is currently being rejected by an ever growing number of anthropologists in the United States (85 percent in 2013). In Poland, at the beginning of the 21st century, the concept of race was rejected by only 25 percent of professional physical anthropologists. Between 2013–2014 the academic community (professors and students) in biology, cultur ... More
Presented by Dr. Katarzyna A. KASZYCKA on 28/8/2019 at 9:30
The biological concept of race is ancient, beginning with creationist narratives and eventually becoming a part of the modern evolutionary paradigm. Unfortunately, our understanding of this concept has always been complicated by its association with human social and cultural practices, especially in regard to the classification of races within our species, anatomically modern humans. The prerequis ... More
Presented by Dr. Joseph Graves JR on 28/8/2019 at 9:00
A decade ago I published a paper about how Neandertals inform human variation. In the time since there has been some evolution in anthropological approaches to understanding human variation, and a true revolution in our understanding of Neandertals. Races are subspecies, divisions of a species into geographically delineated and anatomically distinguishable groups defined by common descent and ... More
Presented by Dr. Milford WOLPOFF on 28/8/2019 at 12:45
The western race concept is a colonial construction of human variation that continues to inform our understanding of human biology and evolution and our understandings of ancestry. Throughout the scientific history of human biology and evolution, social constructions of race played a role in how human variation was interpreted and, conversely, the science of human biology was used to sociopolitica ... More
Presented by Dr. Rachel CASPARI on 28/8/2019 at 12:15
As a legitimate concept for scientific inquiry and explanatory of human diversity race has been widely contested in the social sciences and critical biology (Goodman 2000; Marks 1995 & 2003; Ingold 2008) . Racial thinking has been publicly rejected as scientifically wrong and politically incorrect, even in the biosciences. However, contemporary science (evolutionary studies, population genomic ... More
Presented by Prof. Eugenia RAMIREZ-GOICOECHEA on 28/8/2019 at 10:00
The vast majority of anthropologists and biologists reject biological determinism today, the biological deterministic ideologies are still with us today, and influences the way the general U.S. public thinks about such issues as race and behavior, gender, and biomedical thinking and practice. Anthropologists and other scientists have long struggled with the multiple meanings of race. In the biolog ... More
Presented by Dr. Yolanda MOSES on 28/8/2019 at 11:45
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