Anthropology 150

Race and Racism in the Modern World


Homo sapiens celebrating their diversityHomo sapiens celebrating their diversity (from the American Anthropological Association Newsletter).

Course description

This course provides an introduction to the race concept as it has been used to examine biological and cultural variation among humans. Issues to be discussed include the history of ideas about race, anthropological perspectives on race and ethnicity, genetics and human variation, mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome studies of the origin and subsequent migrations of Homo sapiens, eugenics, sociobiology, and debates concerning race and intelligence. Other topics include the ways people subdivide human groups culturally (by race, class, gender, culture, language, ethnicity, etc.), racism, prejudice and ethnocentrism, affirmative action/employment equity, multiculturalism, and the persistence of ethnicity in the face of increasing globalization. Case studies dealing with specific issues of race and ethnic relations in Canada and other countries will be used to illustrate these concepts.

No prerequisite.


Related websites

(a) Anthropological and other perspectives on race

American Anthropological Association website.

American Anthropological Association statement on race.

The Race project. (Under construction). Brought to you by the American Anthropological Association.

American Association of Physical Anthropologists website.

American Association of Physical Anthropologists statement on biological aspects of race.

Anthropology in the news. Good site for news stories about all kinds of anthropology.

Biological Anthropology web. Links to lots of information about biological/physical anthropology.

Race and reification in science. By Troy Dunster. Science 307(5712): 1050-1051, February 18, 2005. Enhanced web site looks at genetics, medicine and human variation.

Toward a new vocabulary of human genetic variation. By P. Sankar and M. K. Cho. Science 298(5597): 1337-1338, November 15, 2002.

Worlds apart: a conversation about racism: causes and solutions. Web site and television show by Bryan Wade.

Matters of race. PBS series broadcast September 23 and 24, 2003.

The global hierarchy of race. By Martin Jacques. The Guardian, September 19, 2003.

Does race exist? Article by Michael J. Bamshad and S. E. Olsen in Scientific American, December 2003.

Special issue of Nature Genetics on race and human variation. November 2004.

Why we should give up on race. Guardian article by Steven and Hilary Rose, April 9, 2005.


(b) History of ideas about race.

Victorian web. History of the Victorian era (19th century). Sections on Victorian science and racial ideas.

Race-the power of an illusion. PBS series. Part 2 and 3 about the history of race in the USA.

A new look at old data may discredit a theory on race. Nicholas Wade, New York Times, October 8, 2002. Report abou a reassessment of Franz Boas's craniometric data on American immigrants.

Did Boas get it wrong? Yes according to C. S. Sparks and R. L. Jantz, "A reassessment of human cranial plasticity: Boas revisited". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99(23): 14636-14639, 2002.

No, according to C. Gravelee, H. R. Bernard and W. Leonard, "Heredity, environment and cranial form: a re-analysis of Boas' immigrant data". American Anthropologist March 2003.


(i) What does race mean in blood and bones?

(a) Kennewick man and the origins of North American aboriginal people.

Origin of the First Americans (NOVA, PBS).

Kennewick man. News hour, PBS.

American Association of Physical Anthropologists statement on Kennewick man.

Kennwick Man Virtual Interpretive Center.

More information about Kennewick Man.

Who owns the past? From PBS.


(b) The African Burial Ground, New York City.

No rest for the African Burial Ground. Report about state of research at New York City black (slave) burial ground from the colonial period.

Return to the African burial ground. Archaeology magazine, November 20, 2003.

The African foundations of New York. BBC News, April 26, 2004.


(c) Thomas Jefferson-did the father of American liberty father a black slave family?

Jefferson's Blood. Race and identity. From Frontline, PBS.


(c) Human biological variation

(i) Genetics and human biological variation. What does race mean in genes?

DNA from the beginning. Introduction to evolutionary genetics, created by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Cracking the code of life. PBS Nova.

Secret of life. Time magazine cover story about DNA, February 17, 2003.

Double helix: 50 years of DNA. News articles from Nature celebrating the 50th anniversay of the discovery of the structure of DNA, January 23, 2003.

A revolution at 50. Special anniversary series on the discovery of the structure of DNA, New York Times, February 25, 2003.

DNA at 50. BBC site celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA (2003).

John Relethford's website for course on human variation

Jonathan Marks' most recent home page. Marks is a geneticist who writes on the social aspects of human genetic reseach. Among other things, he is the author of Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race and History. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1995. Lots of interesting things about race and human diversity.

"Race as the same machine in different colors". New York Times interview with Dr. Joseph Graves, author of The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the millennium.

Race-the power of an illusion. PBS series. Part 1 about the biology (or lack of biology) of race.

Scientists uncover genetic basis for lactose intolerance. From Scientific American.

Evolution. On line version of PBS series on the evolution of life broadcast September 24-27, 2001.

The Darwin Awards. See evolution in action.

The Y chromosome. Special feature in Nature (June 19, 2003) on sequencing the male sex chromosome.

The Y chromosome consortium or YCC. Group for the study of the human Y chromosome.

mtDB. Human Mitochondrial Genome database. Has completed mtDNA sequences, software for analysis.

Mitomap: Human mitochondrial genome database.

Is blond hair disappearing in the human species? From the BBC, September 2002. Or is it just an urban myth? See a contrary story on CNN, October 2, 2002.

Burn your genes on CD -- for $500,000. From CNN, October 6, 2002.

For Sale: DNA test to measure racial mix. New York Times article by Nicholas Wade, October 1, 2002. The web site for DNAPrint Genomics Inc., the company which offers this service.

Race not reflected in genes, study says. A new Brazilian study shows that what is on the outside is not reflected in the genome. From CNN, December 17, 2002.

Gene sweepstakes ends, but winner may well be wrong. How many genes are there in the human genome? New York Times, June 3, 2003.

A case study of natural selection. Mystery of the Black Death. Secrets of the Dead series on PBS.

Science Times - Evolution. Special section on evolution on the New York Times web site, June 26, 2007.


(ii) The human genome and genome diversity projects.

Web sites about Professor Henry Greely, Faculty of Law, Stanford University, and his research on biomedical ethics.

Professor Tim Caulfield, Faculty of Law and his research on biomedical ethics.

The Human Genome project information.

The Human Genome Organization.

Human Genome Mapping Project resource centre.

The Human Genome. Special "web focus" site produced by Nature in 2003.

How many genes are there in the human genome?

The Human Genome Diversity Project.

What organisms will be sequenced next?

Seeking the signs of selection by Steve Olsen. Science 298(5597): 1324-1325, November 15, 2002.

HapMap: mapping all over the world. About the International HapMap Project, designed to measure the genetic diversity in humans worldwide. Nature, December 18, 2003.

"Journey" redraws humans family tree. About Spencer Wells' research on human DNA, and his new book Journey of Man.

The Genographic Project (2005). Spencer Wells and the National Geographic Society unite to trace the genetics of human evolution.


(iii) Modern human origins

All about human evolution, on the Talk Origins site.

Neanderthals on trial. Broadcast on Nova, January 22, 2002.

The real Eve. Discovery Channel show about modern human origins and dispersal, 2002.

Genetic origins. Cold Spring Harbor web site about genetics and human evolution.

Pam Willoughby's seminar course on modern human origins (Evolution and Social Life = Anthropology 593).

Pam Willoughby's course on human evolution (Hominid Evolution = Anthropology 391).

Pam Willoughby's book on The Evolution of Modern Humans in Africa: A Comprehensive Guide. Lanham, Maryland: AltaMira Press; 439 pp. To be published on November 28, 2006.

Explore human origins on the web. Review of human evolution web sites.

Oxford Ancestors. "Putting the genes in genealogy" Bryan Syke's web site where, regardless of your ethnicity, they can trace your mitochondrial and Y-chromosome ancestry.

Geneticists track more of earliest's humans first itineraries, by Nicholas Wade. New York Times, November 12, 2002.

We are all Africans. Pat Shipman discusses the latest information about modern human origins in this article from American Scientist, November-December 2003.

Did early humans go north or south? Enhanced article on mitochondrial DNA of Asia and Out of Africa 2. Science, May 13, 2005.

Neanderthal DNA Web Focus, Special on-line information from Nature, November 16, 2006. Marking publication for first paper on the Neanderthal nuclear genome.

(iv) Eugenics and the Alberta Sterilization Act

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory eugenics archive.

Prof looks past nature vs. nurture. Express news story about Dr. Douglas Wahlsten, Psychologist, University of Alberta.

What's in a name. Psychology department cuts ties with eugenics proponent. Folio (University of Alberta newspaper) story about Dr. John MacEachern, chair of Alberta's Eugenics Board from 1929-1965.

The National Film Board video on "The Sterilization of Leilani Muir".

Eugenics and the Leilani Muir case.

Prof reveals "eugenics machine". University of Alberta express news story about Dr. Jana Grekul from the Department of Sociology and her research on the history of eugenics in Alberta.

The Canada Heritage "Eugenics in Alberta" web page. From Heritage Canada.

Eugenics in North America.

Oregon Governor apologizes for forced sterilizations., December 3, 2002.


(v) Race and intelligence

American Anthropological Association statement on race and intelligence.

Critiques of The Bell Curve.

Stephen Jay Gould.

Stephen Jay Gould as a Stanford University Presidential Lecturer.

Intelligence: Heredity-Environment debate resolved?

History of influences in the development of intelligence theory and testing.

Intelligence testing. An introduction.

Inside the new SAT test (for US university admissions). Time Magazine, October 27, 2003.


(vi) Sociobiology

In nature vs. nurture, a voice for nature. Review of new book by Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: the modern denial of human nature. New York Times, September 17, 2002.

Sociobiology at age 25. Review by Steve Sailor, National Review, 2000.

Grappling with the ghose of Gould, by David P. Barash. Review of Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Thought.

Is war our biological destiny? New York Times story by Natalie Angier, November 11, 2003.


(d) Human cultural variation (Lots of websites on ethnicity, many of which deal specifically with US cases.)

Geofolks. Guide to the world's peoples.

Literature on race, ethnicity and multiculturalism.

Race and ethnicity online. From the American Political Science Association.

Neighborhood integration sways racial attitudes in Detroit.

Race-the power of an illusion. PBS series. Part 2 and 3 about the history of race in the USA.


(e) Canadian ethnic and race relations

(i) General issues

Canada. Constitution Act. 1867.

Canada. Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Statistics Canada.

Government of Canada, Department of Heritage. "Racism - stop it".

Canadian Ethnocultural Council.

York region's Race relations internet project.

Heritage Community Foundation. Information about Alberta history and ethnic relations.

Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation. Based in Edmonton. Hosting a conference on "Canada: Global Model for a multicultural state" from September 26-28, 2002.

Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration (PCERII). Based at the University of Alberta.


(ii) First Nations, Metis, and Inuit

Assembly of First Nations.

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Association of non-status Indians (eg. off-reserve Indians and Metis).

Metis Nation.

Metis Resource Centre.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Formerly the Inuit Tapirisat. Voice for Canada's 42,000 Inuit.

Aboriginal Canada Portal. Web site of Federal Government of Canada and its relationships with aboriginal people. Lots of links to aboriginal organizations.

First nations links.

Canada's apartheid. A series on aboriginal-white relations in Canada by John Stackhouse of the Globe and Mail, November 2001.


(iii) French and English: 2 founding nations?


(iv) Other ethnic groups/"visible minorities"

Statistics Canada information on visible minorities.

Results of the 2001 Canadian census. From

Becoming Canadian - from immigrant to citizen. CBC.

Canada Immigrant Job Issues. In English and Spanish.

In this day and age, what does it mean to be a Canadian? How did that beer commercial become our base line for national identity?


(f) Other issues

(i) Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism in Canada.

Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation. Based in Edmonton. Hosting a conference on "Canda: Global Model for a multicultural state" from September 26-28, 2002.



(ii) Affirmative action and employment equity

Dinesh D'Souza and his ideas.

How affirmative action helped George W. (Bush). CNN, January 20, 2003.

(a) in California: Proposition 209

Proposition 209 in 1996. The end to affirmative action in California? Official election site.

Proposition 209 and admissions to the University of California at Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall).

Impact of proposition 209 on California Community Colleges.


(b) The latest attempt in California: the Racial Privacy Initiative (Proposition 54). A proposition to eliminate collection of data on race or ethnic origin in California (for ballot on October 7, 2003).

The official statement by its proponents.

Color blind California? Time, August 18, 2003.

The Racial privacy Initiative - a trump card. At

The Racial Privacy Initiative. At

Racial data measure may be a wild card in election. Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2003.


(c) The University of Michigan case: the role of affirmative action in Undergraduate Admissions as well as in admission to the Law School

Admitting for diversity: University of Michigan Law School. From the News Hour, PBS,August 21, 2001.

Affirmative action case awaits Supreme Court review. CNN, December 2, 2002.

Supreme court decision upholds and limits affirmative action. CNN, June 25, 2003.

Making sense of the Supreme Counrt's college admission rulings. CNN, June 25, 2003.

University of Texas to put race factor back into admissions. CNN, June 28, 2003.


(iii) Political correctness and universities


(iv) Globalism and tribalism

The original article by Benjamin Barber: Jihad versus McWorld.


(v) September 11, 2001 and its aftermath

Globe and Mail/CTV site, September 2002.

CBC site, September 2002.


cave man

Go to top of page.

Click here to return to Pam Willoughby's home page.