Rethinking Race in the Americas
 
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IU Anthropology Department

IU Anthropology 60th Anniversary

Contributors:

Anthropology Department Skomp Endowment

Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs

Ruth N. Halls Lecture Fund

College of Arts and Humanities Institute

International Programs

Office of the Provost

Dean of Faculties

IU School of Law

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

Center for the Study of Global Change

Horizons of Knowledge

We are thankful for the support of the AAA Race project.

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The speakers in this symposium represent recent research in the ares of socio-cultural anthropology, bio-anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archeology. The relation between race and anthropology evokes the scientific study of physical variation found in the human species, the cultural, linguistic, and political practices of ethnic identity formation, and the historical impact of Europe's expansion into the Americas and its colonizing projects on other continents.

Certain signs suggest an urgency about an anthropological discussion on race in the present moment.  The American Anthropological Association's launch of its publicly accessible internet race project - a resource not only for scholars but also for teachers and the general public - is only the most obvious example.  It represents a series of recent historical and scientific developments, the effects of which anthropologists will debate for years to come.

First, the scientific impact of bio-genetics over the last two decades - globally visible in the Human Genome Project - has proven a virtual revolution in terms of understandings of the human species' past and present.  Contemporary studies have questioned the relevance of conventional race categories for studies of human variation, disease, and health conditions. These very same developments also create linkages between race and policing via the state's use of DNA in criminal forensics as well as race and genealogical identity via the thriving DNA-ancestry industry.

Second, the global increase in ethnic identity politics in recent decades calls for a more nuanced understanding of the relation of race, anthropology, and politics. These trends suggest that a complex and critical dialogue is taking place within the discipline of anthropology one that has increasing public relevance. Because of the complex relation between anthropology and the concept of race and the increasingly significant impact of recent developments on public culture, we believe that a symposium on "Rethinking Race in the Americas" will have broad appeal.

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