S. Embaye – Week 2 – Systems of Difference

In order to get a better understanding of people and the world around them Individuals have created systematic forms of identifying race and race relations. Race is constructed based on visual forms and beliefs and has less to do with any biological or genetic doings.
More importantly the idea of race has been constructed based on the ideals of Judeo Christianity which gives to the idea that there is a hierarchal structure that all humans need to conform or evolve into as a way to differentiate race and culture. The Great Chain of Being is the belief first God, Angels and Celestial beings led the way then human, beasts and so on and so forth come along further down the chain. Somewhere within this thought process which looks to have been constructed by Edward Tyler and Lewis Henry Morgan, they created the idea that humans must also be divided into categories based on their advancement. Although this structure was merely based on the social and religious construct, even in today’s society it has become the basis for scientific categorical areas such as the US census.
It is important to also recognize that many Anthropologists did not themselves go into the environment to study different cultures in the beginning. Many times their theories and conclusions were based on that of explorers and missionaries whose thought process may have already been skewed by their personal beliefs. To validate their thought process Edward Tyler and Lewis Henry Morgan constructed the Three Stages of Human Development, stating that a culture could only be categorized as civilized based on whether or not a reading and writing system was constructed. The categorizes were themed as Savagery, Barbarism and Civilization with sub-categories in between. Morgan believed that creating these categories would aid in the understanding of other cultures worldwide. He also believed that the evolution that would need to take place was based on becoming more in turn with the European cultural belief systems. I.e. Their God, their education, their ways of life and so on. The issue with Morgan creating this schema is that he only looked at one aspect of many different cultures.
Franz Boas was one of the first to build a system within Anthropology that looked at culture with a wide view and studying a culture based on scientific reasoning and other factors more than just whether or not a culture could read or write.
We have these distinctions of race that they are genetic and biological and that they are linked to more complex differences (Race: The Power of Illusion, Part 1) When we explore mitochondrial DNA there are no genetic factors that specifically help to define race. Students from the video on Race: The Power of Illusion took samples from the inside of their mouth and take a sample of their blood to see if there are any similarities between people based on their skin complexion. However there is nothing that concludes that only black people have a specific gene that other races don’t have.
In the reading called, “Recognizing Cultural Diversity”, Levi speaks on the subject of Evolution Theory. Levi believes that there is a historical origin that breaks down the way in which cultures and society are created.
After reviewing the articles and videos I have many unanswered questions but I will start with the following:
Can we as a society create a non-basis way to review and interpret race and culture?
Are there differences that are not environmental that make races physically different?

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