The Culture War

droid

Beast of Burden
That race is basically a biological explanation for social and cultural differences between different populations of people, not a fixed immutable set of genetic features but rather an arbitrary collection of subjective signifiers that change over time, like beauty.

This is backed up by science, and even the slightest historical examination shows this to be true.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
I'ts largely emerging out of slavery as well. If you look at any histories of the slave trade, you can see these discourses emerging.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
What does race being a social construct mean? Just the opposite of biological essentialism?
Probably better to illustrate with an example. For hundreds of years, many people in England, certainly including the ruling class, considered the English en masse to be descended from Anglo-Saxons who came from Germany and Denmark. This reached a peak in the late 19th/early 20th century with the advent of social Darwinism and the rise of racial "science" (nearly all of which has since turned out to have been ideologically motivated pseudoscience) - people made maps of the racial "types" of Europe, and included England in with the "Nordic" races.

Now modern genetic studies show that the Anglo-Saxon invasion was quite small, perhaps just 50,000 fighting men (and few/no women), and bear in mind that at this point the population of Britain was several million, which it didn't reach again until the end of the middle ages. So it really didn't have a huge genetic effect on subsequent generations, and what effect there was, was mainly confined to the east coast.

Around the same time, "the Celts" - as a more or less unitary "people", defined in terms of genetics, language, and material culture - were being invented by Romantic nationalists in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Again, modern genetic evidence of a Celtic race, as such, is essentially non-existent.

And on a bigger scale, the idea that there is a biologically definable black "race" is exploded by the fact that there is more genetic variety in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world put together. Which is hardly surprising, since anatomically modern humans had already lived in Africa for some 100,000 years by the time the first people left the continent about 60,000 years ago.
 
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luka

Well-known member
Staff member
so who were the Britons then? if we werent anglo saxons i mean and celts dont exist
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
he was shooting for his railway thing by my office. he was wearing the most outrageous purple blazer and red trousers. i gave him a dirty look.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
so who were the Britons then? if we werent anglo saxons i mean and celts dont exist
We're mostly descended from people who came here from northern Europe about 4,500 years ago and who brought the Bronze Age with them. (Edit: the Bell Beaker culture, as droid says. But even that is a culture and not an ethnic group in the genetic sense, since it started in Iberia among people who were not Indo-European, and then spread NE through Europe and was taken up by people who did speak Indo-European languages, some of whom then settled - or invaded - Britain and Ireland.)

Obviously the Britons spoke Celtic languages when the Romans arrived and some of them still do*, but the point is that they were not necessarily descended from the same stock as other people who spoke Celtic languages in, say, Spain or Italy or Slovakia (as they were once thought to).

*if I can mention this without triggering craner
 
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droid

Beast of Burden
I took part in an anonymised academic Haplogroup study a few years back. Worth doing as long as your genetic information isnt being sold off to some sinister megacorp.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
What does race being a social construct mean?
droid + T's answers really cover it, but just to add

in history, and the social sciences, "ethnogenesis" is the most useful (and predominant, I think, but not sure) term/framework for looking at peoplehood

i.e. that ethnicity isn't a matter of genetic descent but rather shared language, cultural values, etc

for example, take the Huns. almost certainly there was no singular genetic "Huns". rather there was a group of disparate peoples grouped around an aristocratic warrior core, with a shared culture. in this framework, ethnicity is fluid and permeable. as previous answers indicate, even the slightest historical examination reveals this to be a more useful and accurate way of looking at ethnicity (and race) than immutable genetic categories. examples are innumerable. a famous one I mentioned in another thread is the Irish (and other European immigrants) "becoming white" when they arrived in America, where the defining cultural fact was race.
 

boxedjoy

Well-known member
I was watching Ainori: Love Wagon on Netflix a few weeks ago and the travellers went to the DR Congo where they learned about the country's Belgian invasion. It was all new to me too. Apparently the invaders managed to split up the communities by fabricating a racial diversity based on minute differences such how big a person's nose is, and then using that to facilitate a war on impurity to strengthen their own dominance.
 

boxedjoy

Well-known member
I tried Googling this for more and specific details but even Wiki was scant on details, I would recommend watching the episode if you can though
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Cheers for the tip. I've been aware of the atrocities committed by the Belgians out there for a while due to reading reviews of "King Leopold's Ghost" but I've never actually steeled myself to read the book.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
for example, take the Huns. almost certainly there was no singular genetic "Huns". rather there was a group of disparate peoples grouped around an aristocratic warrior core, with a shared culture. in this framework, ethnicity is fluid and permeable. as previous answers indicate, even the slightest historical examination reveals this to be a more useful and accurate way of looking at ethnicity (and race) than immutable genetic categories. examples are innumerable. a famous one I mentioned in another thread is the Irish (and other European immigrants) "becoming white" when they arrived in America, where the defining cultural fact was race.
The Huns are an excellent example, and it goes further than that, because aside from having once occupied the area that's now Hungary (centuries before the Magyars got there) they don't *really* have that much to do with Hungary as a country. But the Huns were so important in European history that the name 'Hun' influenced the name 'Hungary' (which would otherwise be 'Ungary'), and Attila is a fairly common Hungarian name to this day.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
the atrocities committed by the Belgians
extremely grim, even by the standards of colonial violence, so bad that even at the time it appalled other Europeans

driven by global rubber boom. mass forced labor, limbs chopped off for failing to meet quotas, etc. same thing happened in Brazil.

not unlike the devastation wrought by Columbus etc on the indigenous population of the Caribbean in the conquistadors' mad lust for gold.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
Congo situation was so bad that the UK govt sent Roger Casement to investigate in the name of human rights. in 1903. which should tell you something.

of all the statues coming down, Leopold II is surely among the most deserving
 
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