This late origin for the English and French terms is consistent with the thesis that the concept of "race" as defining a very small number of groups of human beings based on lineage dates from the time of Columbus. Older concepts that were also at least partly based on common descent, such as nation and tribe, entail a much larger number of groupings.
When the lighter ancient Egyptians were in power they called the darker group the "the evil race of Ish" while when the darker ancient Egyptians were in power they called the lighter group the "the pale, degraded race of Arvad". For example, the Ancient Egyptian sacred text called Book of Gates identifies four ethnic categories that are now conventionally labeled "Egyptians", "Asiatics", "Libyans", and "Nubians" (see Ancient Egypt and race), but such distinctions tended to conflate differences as defined by physical features such as skin tone, with tribal and national identity.
Classical civilizations from Rome to China tended to invest much more importance in familial or tribal affiliation than with one's physical appearance (Dikötter 1992; Goldenberg 2003). Nevertheless, attempts were made to equate physical characteristics such as hair and eye colour with psychological and moral qualities. These sometimes took a form comparable to ideas of racial hierarchy. A comment made by the historian of the 3rd century Han Dynasty describes barbarians of blonde hair and green eyes "who resemble the monkeys from which they are descended."(Gossett, pp. 4). Ancient Greek and Roman authors also attempted to explain and categorize visible biological differences among peoples known to them, claiming that visible differences such as nose-shape and skin color were related to differences in temperament. Such categories often also included fantastical human-like beings that were supposed to exist in far-away lands. Some Roman writers adhered to an environmental determinism in which climate could affect the appearance and character of groups (Isaac 2004).
Greek Hippocrates in 5th century BCE considered racial temperament to be the product of the environment, (Gossett, pp. 6). He considered Greeks to be warlike and brave because they lived in a barren soil, (Gossett, pp. 6). On the other hand, the Asians (Near East/Middle East Asian) were weak and peaceful because they lived in a luscious vegetation, (Gossett, pp. 6). Aristotle, a Greek, distinguished his race as the Hellenic race which had both spirit, the ability to govern and intelligence whereas Europeans had spirit but lacked intelligence and the ability to govern due to the cold climate, (Gossett, pp. 6). He considered the Asians to be intelligent but lack spirit and be in a constant state of slavery, (Gossett, pp. 6). A Native North American racial theory in the form of a legend held that American Indians were superior to blacks and whites, (Gossett, pp. 7). The legend said that in God's first attempt to make a human he cooked him too long, making blacks, (Gosett, pp. 7). In God's second attempt, he didn't cook them enough, making whites, (Gossett, pp. 7). In God's third attempt he realized the golden brown perfection of the American Indian, (Gossett, pp. 7).
Medieval models of "race" mixed Classical ideas with the notion that humanity as a whole was descended from Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three sons of Noah, producing distinct Semitic (Asian), Hamitic (African), and Japhetic (European) peoples.
"Come, tell me why it is that the Celts and the Germans are fierce, while the Hellenes and Romans are, generally speaking, inclined to political life and humane, though at the same time unyielding and warlike? Why the Egyptians are more intelligent and more given to crafts, and the Syrians unwarlike and effeminate, but at the same time intelligent, hot-tempered, vain and quick to learn? For if there is anyone who does not discern a reason for these differences among the nations, but rather declaims that all this so befell spontaneously, how, I ask, can he still believe that the universe is administered by a providence?" ().
The word "race", along with many of the ideas now associated with the term, were products of European imperialism and colonization during the age of exploration. (Smedley 1999) As Europeans encountered people from different parts of the world, they speculated about the physical, social, and cultural differences among various human groups. The rise of the Atlantic slave trade, which gradually displaced an earlier trade in slaves from throughout the world, created a further incentive to categorize human groups in order to justify the subordination of African slaves. (Meltzer 1993) Drawing on Classical sources and upon their own internal interactions — for example, the hostility between the English and Irish was a powerful influence on early thinking about the differences between people (Takaki 1993) — Europeans began to sort themselves and others into groups associated with physical appearance and with deeply ingrained behaviors and capacities. A set of folk beliefs took hold that linked inherited physical differences between groups to inherited intellectual, behavioral, and moral qualities. (Banton 1977) Although similar ideas can be found in other cultures (Lewis 1990; Dikötter 1992), they appear not to have had as much influence upon their social structures as was found in Europe and the parts of the world colonized by Europeans. However, often brutal conflicts between ethnic groups have existed throughout history and across the world, and racial prejudice against Africans also exists today in non-colonised countries such as China and Japan.
While the 17th century did not have systematic notions of racial difference, colonialism led to the development of social and political institutions, such as slavery in the New World, that were later justified through racial theories (cf. Gossett 1997:17).
In a series of lectures, Society Must be Defended (1975-76), Michel Foucault proposed that the ""historical and political discourse"" of race struggle can be traced to the "Revolution of 1688" and the end of Louis XIV's reign. According to him, this was one of the first examples of popular history (of the "race"), opposed to a history of the sovereign. The significance of this, for Foucault, was that "race struggle" functioned as a counter-history to the history of the sovereign. The strength of the nation or race supplanted the histories of the strength of the ruler. So, for example, in Great Britain, a history of the Saxon people was used by Edward Coke and John Lilburn against the absolute rule of William. William's power was curbed because a history of Saxon laws were discovered and said to be the laws of nature, the laws of the race and hence the laws. It should be noted that Foucault makes the distinction between race struggle and state racism or racism in general. For Focault, "racism" does not appear until the 19th Century.
In England, radicals such as John Lilburne emphasised conflicts between Saxon and Norman peoples. In France Henri de Boulainvilliers argued that the Germanic Franks possessed a natural right to leadership, in contrast to descendants of the Gauls. In the 18th century, the differences among human groups became a focus of scientific investigation (Todorov 1993). Initially, scholars focused on cataloguing and describing "The Natural Varieties of Mankind," as Johann Friedrich Blumenbach entitled his 1775 text (which established the five major divisions of humans still reflected in some racial classifications). From the 17th through the 19th centuries, the merging of folk beliefs about group differences with scientific explanations of those differences produced what one scholar has called an "ideology of race" (Smedley 1999). According to this ideology, races are primordial, natural, enduring and distinct. It was further argued that some groups may be the result of mixture between formerly distinct populations, but that careful study could distinguish the ancestral races that had combined to produce admixed groups.
He characterized the racial classification scheme of Metzger when he wrote, \"Metzger makes two principal varieties as extremes:(1) the white man native of Europe, of the northern parts of Asia, America and Africa; (2) the black, or Ethiopian, of the rest of Africa. The transition between the two is made by the rest of the Asiatics, the inhabitants of South America and the Islanders of the southern ocean\"
Regarding the classification scheme of Klügel he wrote, \"Klügel distinguishes four stocks: (1) the primitive autochthones of that elevated Asiatic plain [\"Scythio-Asiatic plain\"] we were speaking of, from which he derives the inhabitants of the rest of Asia, the whole of Europe, the extreme north of America, northern Africa; (2) the Negroes; (3) the Americans, except those of the extreme north of America; (4) the islanders of the southern ocean.\"
Blumenbach characterized the racial classification scheme of John Hunter when he wrote, \"John Hunter reckons seven varieties: (1) of black men, that is, of Ethiopians, Papuans, &e.; (2) the blackish inhabitants of Mauritania and the Cape of Good Hope; (3) the copper-coloured of eastern India; (4) the red Americans; (5) the tawny, as Tartars, Arabs, Persians and Chinese, &e. (6) brownish as the southern Europeans, Spaniards &e., Turks, Abyssinians, Samoiedes and Lapps; (7) white, as the remaining Europeans, the Georgians, Mingrelians and Kabardinski\"
By confounding the language of men, and scattering them abroad upon the face of the earth, they were rendered savages. And to harden them for their new habitations, it was necessary that they should be divided into different kinds, fitted for different climates. With an immediate change in bodily constitutions, the builders of Babel could not possibly have subsisted in the burning region of Guinea, or in the frozen region of Lapland; especially without houses, or any other convenience to protect them against a destructive climate.
In whatever respect the African differs from the European, the particularity brings him nearer to the ape,(Gossett, p. 49).
Among the 19th century naturalists who defined the field were Georges Cuvier, James Cowles Pritchard, Louis Agassiz, Charles Pickering (Races of Man and Their Geographical Distribution, 1848). Cuvier enumerated three races, Pritchard seven, Agassiz twelve, and Pickering eleven.
The 19th century saw attempts to change race from a taxonomic to a biological concept. For example, using anthropometrics, invented by Francis Galton and Alphonse Bertillon, they measured the shapes and sizes of skulls and related the results to group differences in intelligence or other attributes (Lieberman 2001).
These scientists made three claims about race: first, that races are objective, naturally occurring divisions of humanity; second, that there is a strong relationship between biological races and other human phenomena (such as forms of activity and interpersonal relations and culture, and by extension the relative material success of cultures), thus biologizing the notion of "race", as Foucault demonstrated in his historical analysis; third, that race is therefore a valid scientific category that can be used to explain and predict individual and group behavior. Races were distinguished by skin color, facial type, cranial profile and size, texture and color of hair. Moreover, races were almost universally considered to reflect group differences in moral character and intelligence.
The eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, inspired by Arthur Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853-1855) and Vacher de Lapouge's "anthroposociology", asserted as self-evident the biological inferiority of particular groups (Kevles 1985). In many parts of the world, the idea of race became a way of rigidly dividing groups by culture as well as by physical appearances (Hannaford 1996). Campaigns of oppression and genocide were often motivated by supposed racial differences (Horowitz 2001).
In Charles Darwin's most controversial book, The Descent of Man, he made strong suggestions of racial differences and European superiority. In Darwin's view, stronger tribes of humans always replaced weaker tribes. As savage tribes came in conflict with civilized nations, such as England, the less advanced people were destroyed. Nevertheless, he also noted the great difficulty naturalists had in trying to decide how many "races" there actually were (Darwin was himself a monogenist on the question of race, believing that all humans were of the same species and finding "race" to be a somewhat arbitrary distinction among some groups):
Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
Nevertheless, Darwin wrote that man had "diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species" and that "some of these, such as the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species." (Darwin, 1871/1874, p. 929)
After Agassiz came to the United States he became a prolific writer in what has been later termed the genre of scientific racism. Agassiz was specifically a believer and advocate in polygenism, that races came from separate origins (specifically separate creations), were endowed with unequal attributes, and could be classified into specific climatic zones, in the same way he felt other animals and plants could be classified.
These included Western American Temperate (the indigenous peoples west of the Rockies); Eastern American Temperate (east of the Rockies); Tropical Asiatic (south of the Himalayas); Temperate Asiatic (east of the Urals and north of the Himalayas); South American Temperate (South America); New Holland (Australia); Arctic (Alaska and Arctic Canada); Cape of Good Hope (South Africa); and American Tropical (Central America and the West Indies).
Agassiz denied that species originated in single pairs, whether at a single location or at many. He argued instead multiple individuals in each species were created at the same time and then distributed throughout the continents where God meant for them to dwell. His lectures on polygenism were popular among the slaveholders in the South, for many this opinion legitimized the belief in a lower standard of the Negro. Interestingly, his stance in this case was considered to be quite radical in its time, because it went against the more orthodox and standard reading of the Bible in his time which implied all human stock descended from a single couple (Adam and Eve), and in his defense Agassiz often used what now sounds like a very "modern" argument about the need for independence between science and religion; though Agassiz, unlike many polygeneticists, maintained his religious beliefs and was not anti-Biblical in general.
In the context of ethnology and anthropology of the mid-19th century, Agassiz's polygenetic views became explicitly seen as opposing Darwin's views on race, which sought to show the common origin of all human races and the superficiality of racial differences. Darwin's second book on evolution, The Descent of Man, features extensive argumentation addressing the single origin of the races, at times explicitly opposing Agassiz's theories.
Gobineau was a successful diplomat for the French Second Empire. Initially he was posted to Persia, before working in Brazil and other countries. He came to believe that race created culture, arguing that distinctions between the three "black", "white", and "yellow" races were natural barriers, and that "race-mixing" breaks those barriers and leads to chaos. He classified the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and southern France as racially mixed.
Gobineau believed the white race was superior to the others. He thought it corresponded to the ancient Indo-European culture, also known as "Aryan"(Indo-Iranian race). Gobineau originally wrote that white race miscegenation was inevitable. He attributed much of the economic turmoils in France to pollution of races. Later on in his life, he altered his opinion to believe that the white race could be saved.
To Gobineau, the development of empires was ultimately destructive to the "superior races" that created them, since they led to the mixing of distinct races. This he saw as a degenerative process. According to his definitions, the people of Spain, most of France, most of Germany, southern and western Iran as well as Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy and a large part of Britain, consisted of a degenerative race arising from miscegenation. Also according to him, the whole of north India consisted of a yellow race.
Coon and his work drew some charges of obsolete thinking or outright racism from a few critics, but some of the terminology he employed continues to be used even today, although the "-oid" suffixes now have in part taken on negative connotations.
Many significant criticisms also came from the school of Franz Boas beginning in the 1920s. During the mid-1930s, with the rise of Nazi Germany and its prominent espousing of racist ideologies, there was an outpouring of popular works by scientists criticizing the use of race to justify the politics of "superiority" and "inferiority". An influential work in this regard was the publication of" We Europeans: A Survey of "Racial" Problems by Julian Huxley and A. C. Haddon in 1935, which sought to show that population genetics allowed for only a highly limited definition of race at best. Another popular work during this period, "The Races of Mankind" by Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish, argued that though there were some extreme racial differences, they were primarily superficial, and in any case did not justify political action. Claude Lévi-Strauss' Race and History (UNESCO, 1952) was another milestone in the critique of the biological "race" notion, arguing in favor of cultural relativism through the famous metaphor of cultures as different trains crossing each others in various directions and speed, thus each one seeming to progress to himself while others supposedly kept immobile. This clearly showed that "race" was no longer a useful indicator of cultural superiority.
In his 1984 article in Essence magazine, "On Being ‘White’…and Other Lies," James Baldwin reads the history of racialization in America as both figuratively and literally violent, remarking that "race" only exists as a social construction within a network of force relations: "America became white—the people who, as they claim, "settled" the country became white—because of the necessity of denying the Black presence, and justifying the Black subjugation. No community can be based on such a principle—or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie. White men from Norway, for example, where they were Norwegians—became white: by slaughtering the cattle, poisoning the well, torching the houses, massacring Native Americans, raping Black women. . . Because they are white, they cannot allow themselves to be tormented by the suspicion that all men are brothers." Apart from its function as a vernacular term, in 1982 Nancy Stepan notes in The Idea of Race in Science, Great Britain 1800-1960 that during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term "race" has varied widely in its usage even in science, referring "at one time or another" to "cultural, religious, national, linguistic, ethnic and geographical groups of human beings"—everything from "Celts" to "Spanish Americans" to "Hottentots" to "Europeans" (p. xvii).
In the 1979 preface to Blackness: Text and Pretext, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. describes the elusive element of "blackness" in Afro-American literature as lacking an "essence," defined instead "by a network of relations that form a particular aesthetic unity" (p. 162). Continuing his poststructuralist-inflected negation of blackness as an essence, in his 1985 introduction to a special issue of the journal Critical Inquiry, Gates goes even further, calling race itself a "dangerous trope" (p. 5). He asserts that "race has become a trope of the ultimate, irreducible difference between cultures, linguistic groups, or adherents of specific believe systems which…also have fundamentally opposed economic interests" (p. 5).
Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America & Honky. (Capsule Reviews). (book review)
Sep 22, 2000; Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America, by Dalton Conley, California University Press, 209...
Football: TAKE IT AS RED; RACE FOR THE TITLE EVERTON 2 MAN UTD 4 CHELSEA 2 BOLTON 2 Even Jose admits United are on the brink of glory.(Sport)
Apr 29, 2007; Byline: By PAUL SMITH MANCHESTER United are on the brink of winning the Premiership. Sir Alex Ferguson's men could be crowned as...
Football: TAKE IT AS RED; RACE FOR THE TITLE Even Jose admits United are on the brink of glory EVERTON 2 MAN UTD 4 CHELSEA 2 BOLTON 2.(Sport)
Apr 29, 2007; Byline: By PAUL SMITH MANCHESTER United are on the brink of winning the Premiership. Sir Alex Ferguson's men could be crowned as...