Galileo Wept.doc - Diana B Smay and George J Armelagos...

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Diana B. Smay and George J. Armelagos Galileo Wept: A Critical Assessment of the Use of Race in Forensic Anthropology Anthropology has been haunted by the misuse of the race concept since its beginnings. Although modern genetics has shown time and again that race is not a biological reality and cannot adequately describe human variation, many anthropologists are unable or unwilling to put aside racial typology as an explanatory tool. Here, we consider the case of forensic anthropology as an example often held up by uncritical anthropologists as evidence that the race concept “works.” The logic appears to be that if forensic anthropologists are able to identify races in skeletal remains, races must be biological phenomena. We consider four general viewpoints on the subject of the validity and utility of race in forensic anthropology and offer an argument for the elimination of race as part of the “biological profile” identified by forensic anthropologists. Keywords: Race, Forensic Anthropology, Typology, Apportionment I am beginning to understand how astronomers feel. The relation between the scientific study of regional differences in man, and racism, is similar to the relation between astronomy and astrology. Astronomy is an attempt to understand a portion of the universe: astrology is an attempt to convert certain parts of this information into a kind of divination, to predict the characteristics, behavior, or fortunes of human beings. But so far I have not heard of anybody trying to tell astronomers that they cannot use the words 'star' or 'planet' because to do so might seem to endorse the validity of the horoscopes in the daily paper. —Alice Brues (1993), "The Objective View of Race" Diana B. Smay is a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University. Her research interests include bioarchaeology, paleoepidemiology, and medical anthropology, focusing on how diverse individuals react to environmental stress. Her interest in the race concept stems from a devotion to methodological rigor in biological sciences. George J. Armelagos, professor of Anthropology at Emory University, has focused his research on diet and disease in human adaptation. He has been president of American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Northeast Anthropological Association, chair, Biological Anthropology unit of the American Anthropological Association, and chair, Anthropology Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. INTRODUCTION The level of acceptance of the biological validity of the race concept in physical anthropology has gone through radical shifts in the past fifty years. Perhaps more than any other concept, it has suffered the consequences of being torn between the teeth of “conventional wisdom” on one hand, and a lack of any cohesive scientific definition on the other (Brace 1982). The use of race in physical anthropology is particularly interesting, due to its historical conception as the "scientific" study of racial typologies of human crania. A review of the work of Samuel G. Morton (1839; 1844) is a common
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