Week 7

The Future of Race?


ASSIGNMENTS Must be posted by 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, August 18.

  • Reflection post: 300-400 words. Suggested themes:
    • What are the main characteristics of “racial paranoia,” according to Jackson?
    • How is racial paranoia a “post-racial” condition?
    • What is Jackson’s sense of what it would require in order to move beyond contemporary conditions of racial paranoia and racial inequality?

FINAL PROJECT Must be posted by 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, August 18.

400-500 words.

The materials below all concern a dialogue about a recent book by science reporter Nicholas Wade that argues that races reflect real, heritable biological differences. The first is a  webinar from May of 2014, which is essentially a debate between Wade and anthropologist Augustín Fuentes. The second is a written summary of the webinar, and the remaining pieces are articles relating to the debate and to Wade’s book, which is at the heart of the matter. For your final project you are to post your responses to the questions below the readings in the blog for this week.

Questions for final project blog post:

  • If the webinar were a debate and you were the judge, who would win? Why?
  • What is the foundation of Wade’s argument?
  • Consider the final three articles, in which two anthropologists and Wade argue Wade’s fundamental claim, which is that the newest genetic research shows that racial differences reflect the fundamental biological reality of race. Which positions do you find most convincing? Why? Least convincing? Why?
  • What are the greatest weaknesses of the argument you find most convincing, or with which you agree?
  • What are the greatest strengths of the argument you find least convincing, or with which you disagree?

One thought on “Week 7

  1. I believe that Agustin Fuentes had a better argument in the webinar. Between Fuentes and Nichols Wade the author of “A Troublesome Inheritance”, I felt that Agustin’s counter argument was much more consistent and factual with his research while Nichols Wade would use scientific research then try to back it up with bias beliefs. Some of the opinions that Wade had were either not accurate or just inappropriate. While when Fuentes went in on the counter argument he had a lot of differences of people, and seemed a lot more accurate than Wades findings.
    In Wade’s argument he was very consistent in that he believes that humans were divided into either three, five or seven different races. He used a lot more traditional knowledge of cultural differences to back up his findings. Wade used the study to show the differences between people in Nigeria, Western Europe, Beijing, and Tokyo, but the problem is that those same variations could have been found anywhere else. I agreed with Agustin when he said “no human populations are different enough from one another to be called subspecies.” I also like how Agustin was able to point out that the chart that was used by Wade that only went up to K6 originally went to K20 and that Wade was only showing the audience what he wanted them to see and not the full picture.
    I really liked Fuentes argument and how he broke down what things are important to look for when doing this type of research. He also explained that it is important to look at the big picture instead of only looking at genes because they only tell you a small portion of the story and don’t get us very far. Fuentes made sense when he said that “most variation in human genetics is due to gene flow and genetic drift, which basically means that the further apart two populations are, the more differences there are going to be between them.” Another reason why I believe that Agustin won was that he was able to find flaws within Wades work. Wade repetitively said in order to keep things simple a five based race scheme seems most practical, but Agustin responded that this is only right if you are trying to maintain the myth that blacks, whites, and Asians are biologically separable groups but if your goal is to actually show what we need to know about human diversity it not actually practical at all but in fact very wrong.

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