Soc183week2 Hannah 2011 Orienting Concepts Race and Ethnicity

Soc183week2 Hannah 2011 Orienting Concepts Race and Ethnicity

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Unformatted text preview: Adapted from Seth Donal Hannah. 2011. Clinical Care in Environments of Hyperdiversity: Race, Culture, and Ethnicity in a Post-Pentad World. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Harvard University. Not for citation or distribution without permission. 1 Orienting Concepts: Race and Ethnicity From the earliest development of racial thinking, notions of racial difference were intimately tied to both cultural differences as well as hierarchical distinctions. As philosopher Ian Hacking has argued, “Classification and judgment are seldom separable. Racial classification is evaluation. Strong ascriptions of comparative merit were built into European racial classification and into evaluations of human beauty from the beginning (Hacking 2005, p. 109) .” As Anthony Appiah notes, this can be seen clearly in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, who, when addressing the topic of race, regularly talks about physical matters and their aesthetic consequences – hairlessness, kidneys, sweat, as well as questions of the moral character of the Negro (bravery, lustfulness, crudeness of feeling, shallowness), ending with a discussion of the intellectual capacities – or rather incapacities of black people (Appiah 1996, p. 48). 1 Race then, can be defined as a biological concept that is grounded in the physical and the psychological nature of the different races and is invoked to explain cultural and social phenomena (Appiah 1996). Throughout the 18 th and 19 th centuries, this biological notion of race became a dominant ideology, the hallmark of which is what Appiah calls “ram,” where individuals are seen as divided into discrete groups who share certain fundamental, heritable, physical, moral, intellectual, and cultural characteristics with one another that they did not share with members of any other race (Appiah 1996). 2 Membership in a racial group is seen as a form of social 1 As Appiah notes, Jefferson was not completely committed to the idea that racial differences were necessarily tied to cultural characteristics. He often spoke fondly of the cultural contributions of Native Americans and leaves open, at least theoretically, that some blacks have talents equal to those of other races (Appiah 1996, p. 51). 2 This is similar to what Omi and Winant refer to as the process of “racialization.” 2 This is similar to what Omi and Winant refer to as the process of “racialization.” Adapted from Seth Donal Hannah. 2011. Clinical Care in Environments of Hyperdiversity: Race, Culture, and Ethnicity in a Post-Pentad World. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Harvard University. Not for citation or distribution without permission. 2 identity, providing a mental map upon which others can associate likely qualities of the individual with that of their group. Race became “common sense” – a way of comprehending, explaining and acting in the world. Race (along with sex) was one of the first things people noticed about each other when they met, and was used to provide clues about who...
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2012 for the course SOC 183 taught by Professor Sethhannah during the Fall '11 term at Harvard.

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Soc183week2 Hannah 2011 Orienting Concepts Race and Ethnicity

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