racial divisions - racial divisions prospect online, june...

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racial divisions prospect online , june 2008 I was intrigued when I heard that Mark Pagel was going to review my book Strange Fruit . The debate about race has traditionally pitted so-called 'race realists' against anti- racists. Race realists argue that races are natural divisions of humankind, anti-racists that race is a social construction and has little biological value. Strange Fruit is an attempt to rethink this debate and show why both sides are wrong. Races are not natural divisions but they do have biological consequences and can be of pragmatic use in scientific and medical research. Pagel is a 'race realist'. I had hoped that he would engage with the arguments in the book so we could move the debate into fresh territory. What I didn't expect was that he would engage with the arguments without seemingly having read the book. Pagel has simply assumed that I am regurgitating old-fashioned anti-racist criticism and he has responded with old-fashioned race realist rebuttals. Pagel suggests that 'observations' about racial differences 'collide' with my 'insistence' that race 'is nothing more than a social construct, having little to do with biology'. Those very observations are, in fact, at the heart of Strange Fruit . Like Pagel, I point out that 'We can all plainly see that most Kenyans look different to most Inuit. Virtually everyone can distinguish between the physical characteristics of the major racial groups.' I demonstrate at length how 'it is possible - in fact quite easy - to distinguish genetically between races.' I explore the possibilities of infering racial origin from skull shape and argue that such techniques do not herald a return to nineteenth century racial science. Having done all this it is galling to read that I apparently 'deny what everybody knows',
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This note was uploaded on 10/16/2011 for the course ENGLISH 101 taught by Professor Parkin during the Summer '11 term at Wilfred Laurier University .

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racial divisions - racial divisions prospect online, june...

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