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Biological Theories of Race Beyond the Millennium
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 prerequisite for the dismantling of false biological theories of race in humans was the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, followed by The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. Our modern understanding of biological concepts of race was furthered by the Neo-Darwinian synthesis of the early 20th century, the maturation of population genetics in the mid- to late 20th century, and finally the revolution in genetic sequencing technology of the 21st century. Unfortunately, modern genomic analysis of human biological diversity is often disconnected from the historical debates over the meaning of biological conceptions of race. This paper provides a summary of biological conceptions of race, why our species does not adhere to modern evolutionary conceptions of race, and how we may utilize this understanding to better utilize the power of modern genomic tools to solve crucial problems related to human biological diversity.