Reinterrogating race in scientific research : a view from the history of physical anthropology

Walters, Handri (2020)

CITATION: Walters, H. 2020. Reinterrogating race in scientific research : a view from the history of physical anthropology, in Jansen, J. & Walters, C. (eds). 2020. Fault lines : a primer on race, science and society. Stellenbosch: SUN PReSS, doi:10.18820/9781928480495/03.

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It might come as a surprise to some to learn that the concept of race is a fairly recent phenomenon in the history of humanity. Race, as a marker of human difference, was only introduced in the sixteenth century. However, over the course of a few centuries, the world would witness a powerful transformation in the “perceptions of human difference” as framed by the concept of race.1 First, there was the introduction of racial variation based on observable differences, then the idea of racial categorisation, followed by the idea that these categories could be organised according to a human hierarchy.

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