American Anthropological Association Statement on Race


Two years after AAPA’s statement of race, American Anthropological Association (AAA) also published their statement on the race.  Like AAPA statement of race, AAA statement of race follow the tradition of anthropologists and rejects the biological and genetic basis of racial classification.  There are also differences between AAPA and AAA statement of race.  While AAPA focuses on explaining the non-existence of biological race, AAA statement of race focuses on the historical, social, and cultural aspect of race.  In this post, as I did for AAPA statement of race, I will evaluate AAA race statement with new multilocus genetic data in mind.

First, it addresses that science does not support biological and genetic basis of the race.  A great amount of genetic variation exists within each racial group.  There is a great deal of overlapping of phenotypic variation, because the gene flow between different groups of humans is common.   Classification of humans based on physical characteristics is arbitrary and subjective.

Second, it reviews that historical context of how racial classifications are used and justified in the Western Societies.  Race as a way of categorizing people is developed during the colonial era and used to rationalize social and political relationship between Europeans and conquered indigenous groups and to legitimatize the socio-political power of Europeans.  Historical examples are numerous, including slavery in the U.S. and the Nazi Germany.

Finally, it stresses that today anthropologists understand that there is a great variation in human behavior, not because of genetic makeup, but because of culture, learned behavior.  

The basic argument is that concept of race is socially and culturally constructed.  However, they have to address why many genetic studies keep showing the genetic differences among human racial groups and why and how genetic and biological differences are maintained, if race is socially constructed.

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