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.What does race being a social construct mean? Just the opposite of biological essentialism?
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.)so who were the Britons then? if we werent anglo saxons i mean and celts dont exist
droid + T's answers really cover it, but just to addWhat does race being a social construct mean?
absolutely. this NYRB piece discusses the earliest European interactions with West Africa, and the beginning of some of that discourse.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
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.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.
extremely grim, even by the standards of colonial violence, so bad that even at the time it appalled other Europeansthe atrocities committed by the Belgians