Archive for July, 2004

The Perception of “Racial” Traits

July 19th, 2004

This essay reviews what is known about the culturally dependent perception of “racial” traits in four topics. Harry Hoetink’s Somatic Norm Image considers whether predictable differences in colonial histories determine how people see “racial” group membership. How U.S. Children Learn to See Two Endogamous Groups examines the stages through which children learn to identify and to articulate what their culture sees as “racial” traits. The Instinctive Need to See “Otherness” identifies the cognitive system, selected by adaptation to hunter-gatherer life over 200 millennia ago, that has been co-opted to identify someone as having “racially” different looks—an encounter that no Paleolithic hominid could ever have experienced. Finally, The Decline of the Bio-Race Concept offers a brief explanation of why the biological concept of “race” as applied to humans has been abandoned by the hard sciences.