Historical and cultural problems of northern countries and regions

/ English

3 (15), 2011 .

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Historical and cultural problems

of northern countries and regions

 

 

 

Leonid V. Ivanov

(Grinnell, USA)

 

The Myth of Northern Character: Racist Pride and Scientific Prejudice

 

Professional historians still disagree about

the solution; most are no longer even asking

the question. Jared Diamond

 

Summary: The essay examines Western attitudes towards the idea of regional character through the prism of the debate between environmental- and bio-determinists. It also looks into the current revival of this debate and its potentially dangerous implications in the light of modern genomics.

 

When asked who attended a banquet, a southerner reports: An elegant gentleman from Virginia, a gentleman from Kentucky, a man from Ohio, a bounder from Chicago, a fellow from New York and a galoot from Maine. [1] This is not merely an antiquated anti-Northern joke. The North-South opposition, in various forms, seems to have dominated our minds throughout time. As Morris Freilich describes it:

 

The belief in the "sovereign influence of environment" has been widespread... As a folk belief, it has frequently taken the form that people who live in the northern part of a given area are typically of stern and sturdy character, industrious and provident. Those who live in the southern section are characteristically easy going, indolent, talkative and of cheerful disposition. This folk belief is shared by the Japanese, the Chinese, the Indians, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish, the English, the Dutch and the Americans. Men of letters who have subscribed to environmental determinism include scholars who have in a major way affected the intellectual history of Western civilizationHippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Polybius, and Ptolemy [2].

 

A cab driver in Dublin once told me: Moscow and Dublin are on the same parallel. Thats why we are so close spiritually. We even have a Jew in Parliament now. Is there some truth behind these latitudinal attitudes? Is it even a legitimate question? Eager to return to his dolce pensar niente, a modern scholar will certainly produce a number of debate-closing argumentsquite obvious, and in this case, quite correct.

First of all, why North-South? Iowa and its Western neighbor Nebraska, for example, have very different politics [3], despite similar ethnic, social and religious backgrounds of their inhabitants. Secondly, what is North? Is it a stable geographic/climatic zone, or is it defined as North only relative to me"? [4] Thirdly, the stereotypes of Northerners themselves are quite diverse. The same people use Iceland to explain achievement by adversity to climate, and the North Siberian climate to explain the perceived backwardness of the population.

And what is backwardness about, anyway [5]? Is it about relative degree of material progress [6]? Or is it about the state of morals, laws, the contrat social, culture, education? [7]

Or maybe its just a fancy of my conditioned perception? Should I stop noticing that Northerners are blonder, more reserved, slow, hard-working? That Southerners are darker, more passionate, have better food? Why, since Ptolemy, do our maps mark North as up and South as down? Why in English, does north of mean greater than while it went south means it went wrong? Am I allowed to analyze the geography of Russian capitals

(Kiev -> Moscow -> St. Petersburg -> Moscow), and correlate it with political progress?Two of my best friends are from Ghana, so my brain, in a quixotishly Bayesian attempt to defy logic and culture [8] speculates that all 24 million Ghanaians are fun, smart, and peace-loving. This speculation makes me a determinist. In the past, people were brave enough to be deterministto look for an underlying system behind seemingly related observations.

According to the proposed systems, the perceived cause of regional behavior is either intrinsic or acquired; it either lies within people, or outside of their true or imagined selves [9]. The stream of thought that claims that biology determines character is biodeterminism. The one that looks for causes outside of the self is environmental determinism [10].

The logic of environmental determinism can be described, more or less, as follows:

  1. All humans originated from the same species, in one place [11].
  2. Eventually humans migrated to many different places.
  3. Change in environment caused humans to weaken, facing unfamiliar diseases.
  4. Humans gradually adapted to new environments.
  5. In the process, they developed specific physiological characteristics.
  6. They also developed region-specific traits of character and social institutions.

Most environmental determinists also conclude that temperate climates (where, of course, they all live [12]) are best for civilization. They believe that more advanced cultures push the less advanced ones to the outer regions. In a harsh, sparsely populated environment, those unfortunates hardly develop, and thus preserve original social structures from the ice-age [13].

Today, we think: some physiological traits, sure (skin color is related to sun exposure), but characteris it really related to the environment? And, if there is a connection, is it with nature per se, or through an intermediary, like migration patterns or population density?

These questions are as old as the stereotypes themselves. Throughout centuries, we see a stable flow of regional character observations and a pretty limited variety of possible explanations. In Germania, Tacitus (AD 56 AD 117) writes:

 

In wonderful savageness live the nation of the Fennians, and in beastly poverty. [...] Such a condition they judge more happy than the painful occupation of cultivating the ground, than the labour of rearing horses, than the agitations of hope and fear attending the defense of their own property or the seizing that of others. Secure against the designs of men, secure against the malignity of the Gods, they have accomplished a thing of infinite difficulty; that to them nothing remains even to be wished [14].

 

Almost eighteen hundred years later, in an article about Finland, P. A. Kropotkin (1842 - 1921) [15] adds geography to Renans purely metaphysical definition of a nation [16]:

 

A geographer [would add to these features of a nation] a kind of union between the people and the territory it occupies, from which territory it receives its national character and on which it impresses its own stamp, so as to make an indivisible whole both of men and territory. [] the perseverance and tenacity that characterize all Northern Finnish stems are the natural outcome of these [harsh] conditions, together with a gravity and a kind of melancholy which are so striking in the features of the people [17].

 

Kropotkin was a professional (and by all accounts, brilliant) geographer of his time [18], and as such was prone to connect all aspects of human development to the environment:

 

, , . [] , . [] ... , , . [...] , - , - , , , , , , [19].

 

Kropotkin wrote during the time period called by some researchers the Moment of Environmental Determinism, 1890-1920. [20] A typical representative of this period is Ellen C. Semple (1863 1932). In Influences of Geographic Environment, she writes:

 

a close correspondence obtains between climate and temperament. The northern peoples of Europe are energetic, provident, serious, thoughtful rather than emotional, cautious rather than impulsive. The southerners of sub-tropical Mediterranean basin are easy-going, improvident except under pressing necessity, gay, emotional, imaginative, all qualities which among the negroes of the equatorial belt degenerate into grave racial faults. [] The southern russian is described as more light hearted than his kinsman of the bleaker north, though both are touched with the melancholy of the Slav. [...] The polar regions and the subtropical deserts permit man to form only few and intermittent relations with any one spot, restrict economic methods to the lower stages of development, produce only the small, weak, loosely organized horde, which never evolves into a state so long as it remains in that retarding environment [21].

 

If there is one name most strongly associated with environmental determinism, it is certainly that of Ellsworth Huntington (18761947). His work was especially influential in the beginning of the 20th century. As G. Manley [22] describes it, Huntington attributed human imperfections to the external environment, just as Freud was attributing them to the inner issues. Huntington explained most of human history as related to climate pulsationsalternate periods of warmer and colder climates [23] (as opposed to Kropotkins idea of progressive desiccation. [24]) And not just global issues: for example, he blames the diminished role of Norway in European history on increased storminess in the 14th century [25]. Obsessed with temperature, Huntington came up with the geographical distribution of human vigor, and ideal race-dependent temperatures for humans to succeed [26].

Huntingtons views had been proven factually incorrect, forgottenthen revived, especially recently, when the trope of global climate change has finally drained through the media all the way down to politicians [27]. To a modern reader Huntington seems akin to his own characterization of the buffalo [28]. He is also inconsistent: here and there he spruces his writings with anti-climactic (pun intended) social Darwinism. For example, he writes about Iceland: The persistence of good inheritance in this remote spot suggests that there is no inherent reasons why races should decay. [29] Not surprisingly, Huntington was the president of the board of American Eugenics Society [30]. In his unbelievably stupid article A Neglected Tendency in Eugenics, [31] he tries to prove that successful people have a tendency to have more children, basing his proof on the correlation between professors rank at Yale and the number of children these professors have [32].

Despite it all, Huntingtons influence on environmental determinism cant be denied. Thomas Griffith Taylor (1880-1963) mentions Huntingtons Climactic Factor [33] as one of the two most valuable recent books in Environment, Race and Migration. [34] Huntington claimed that he and Taylor belonged to the same school, only arguing about details, but in many ways Taylor was Huntingtons opposite: he was a true and insightful scholar. He is not just a classic environmental determinist [35]his writing, in general, is refreshingly modern:

 

No one can doubt that China and Japan in another century will duplicate the material prosperity of the European or American manufacturers.[] But it seems unlikely that China will show us the way to employ the valuable economic methods of mechanical production without also developing slums (and millionaires) of our industrialism [36]. The causal connection between geography and character was not just for high science.

 

Geography textbooks professed this ideology as well. In J. Olveys (1798-1892) Practical System of Modern Geography (1829), students learn:

 

The Swedes are distinguished for their education and morality; Laplanders are under no regular government, and are a miserable, ignorant, and superstitious race; Russians are hardy, vigorous, and patient of labour; but extremely rude, ignorant and barbarous; The Italians excel in music, painting and sculpture; but they are effeminate, superstitious, slavish and revengeful; The Hindoos are indolent, spiritless and superstitious; [Siberian] inhabitants are generally ignorant, filthy and barbarous; the Abyssinians are in the lowest state of civilization; and in many of their customs, they are extremely barbarous and brutal They profess Christianity, but its more in name than in reality [37].

 

A modern scholar is quick to link environmental determinism to racism, imperialism, and colonialism. [38] Harm de Blij, the current U.S. authority in geography, states that

 

Cultural geographers and anthropologists noted [] regional contrasts a long time ago, and initially drew conclusions about relationships between climate and civilization that reflected the unconstrained racism of their times [39].

 

This is simply not true. Or at least not truly that simple. As Mark Bassin puts it:

 

Care must be taken to avoid falling back upon an overly rigid reductionist analysis, which mechanically identifies geographical ideas, concepts, and theories as ultimately nothing more than direct and unambiguous expressions of particular political programs. [] By itself, the notion of environmental influences seems to have had no political identity or significance and acquired one only at the hands of practitioners who quite willfully put it there [40].

 

Colonialism needs a consensus that the colonized live in a primitive state. It does not care why, which was the concern of environmental determinists. The way they answered the why question made the environmental determinists inherently not racist. And not just Kropotkin, who in another article of 1885 states that geography must teach us that we are all brethren, whatever nationality. [41] In the same geography textbook by J. Olvey, we read:

 

Human species are the offspring of one common parent; the delicate European and the swarthy Ethiopian are brothers, descended from the same ancestor. Climate, or the temperature of the air, is the principal cause of the different complexion and the external form of the human race, which when extremely warm or cold, produces in process of time, a dark, and when temperate, a fair complexion. Difference of education, food, clothing, modes of life, and particular customs may be assigned as other causes [42].

 

Perhaps Griffith Taylor summed it up best:

 

In my opinion race-prejudice is but another term for ethnological ignorance. Such prejudice is based on very real differences of culturebut in majority of cases the biological differences are negligible. [43]

 

One might argue that this is, in fact, a causus belli for colonialism: if we are all brothers in different states of civilization, the civilized have a duty to civilize the uncivilized. Wrong. First of all, an uncivilized state does not always bear negative connotations. Since at least the 16th century, environmental determinism has been accompanied by the notion of the noble savage, and not just unspoiled and naive, but better than us in many ways. As Michel de Montagne (15331592) wrote in his essay On Cannibals (1580), primitives might eat each others dead, but Europeans kill each other in thousands in the name of religion [44]. There is no doubt that Kropotkin looked far North and South for communities based on mutual aid, which, he hoped, is an ideal state of nature [45].

Besides, colonization doesnt improve climate. And even if we moved the colonized people to another location, this wouldnt help. On the contrary, according to environmental determinists, it can lead to diseases and, in due time, to degeneration [46]. The idea of degeneration was popularized by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707 1788) [47]:

 

Buffon [...] concurred with the notion of a proper climate for each species, but he argued that this congenial region was the organism's "patrie d'origine," the actual site of its creation. [...] Each flora and fauna thus belonged to a particular eco-graphical region. Forms native to the torrid zones would not be expected to maintain or reproduce their kind in more temperate regions, and even when migration occurred within a climatic region, such as from the old world to the new, the limited transformation that took place represented a "degeneration" in aesthetic terms at least [48].

 

Alexandr Pushkin, in his unpublished essay On Prose (1822), mentions Buffon as the great master of describing nature. [49] Less than a year later, Pushkin mutters in Onegin: [50]. Pushkins commentators did a sloppy job explaining this line. Lotman simply notes: . : . [51] Even Nabokov dilutes himself to generality: Pushkin often alludes to personal and political matters in geographical, seasonal and meteorological terms. [52]Why was the North harmful for Pushkin, but not for Onegin and Lensky, both names originating from Northern rivers? And why did Pushkin, the unrivaled master of irony, use such a strange, almost medical attempt at a joke? Did the self-described ugly descendant of Negroes, [53]just open Buffons Of the Degeneration of Animals and read: Whenever man began to change his climate, and to migrate from one country to another, his nature was subjected to various alterations? Is that why, in Peter the Greats Negro (1827-1828), the Duke of Orleans says to Pushkins great-grandfather: Russia is not your native country. I do not think that you will ever again see your torrid home, but your long residence in France has made you equally a stranger to the climate and the ways of life of semi-civilized Russia"? [54]Regardless of the explanation, Pushkin likely preferred Buffons views to that of the Enlightenment, e.g., of everyones darling Voltaire:

 

The negro race is a species of men [] different from ours []. Their eyes are not formed like ours. The black wool on their heads and other parts has no resemblance to our hair; and it may be said that if their understanding is not of a different nature from ours, it is at least greatly inferior. They are not capable of any great application or association of ideas, and seem formed neither for the advantages nor abuses of our philosophy. [55]

 

Compare that ignorant and spiteful tirade to the buffoonery of our noble and naive Buffon:

 

mankind are not composed of species essentially different from each other; [] on the contrary, there was originally but one species, which, after multiplying and spreading over the whole surface of the earth, has undergone various changes by the influence of climate, food, mode of living, epidemic diseases, and mixture of dissimilar individuals; [] they are transmitted from generation to generation, as deformities or diseases pass from parents to children; and that lastly, as they were originally produced by a train of external and accidental causes [], it is probable that they will gradually disappear. [56]

 

Buffon and Voltaire are excellent samples of two trends that existed for the last 300 years, if not more. The first one, driven by environmental determinism and wanderlust, did not want to exploit, but to explore. To educate, to cure, and probably to convert, but not to exterminate. To display stolen treasures in museums, but also to build roads, schools and hospitals. The second, biodeterministic trend was driven by greed mixed with measured, cold indifference. Like Nazis, representatives of the second trend were not concerned with the body, mind, or soul of their victims. Surely, they used ethnographic style to describe the oppressed populations (examples are plenty, from El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega [57] to Rudolf Hoess [58]). But those descriptions are nothing more than self-acquitting mimicry.

In a way, environmental determinists were the noble savages of anthropology: they naively wanted to study people. The 20th century would no longer deal with people, but with masses ripe for manipulation. It required a different kind of scholar. No matter how much they try to hide behind eugenics, one can directly connect their work to genocide One of those scholars is a Russian-born Frenchman named Joseph Deniker (1852-1918), who, amongst other achievements, is credited for coming up with the idea of aNordic Race. Unlike other determinists, Deniker emphasizes intrinsic, non-biological differences between races:

 

The differences between the ethnical groups are the product of evolutions subject to other laws than those of biology laws still very dimly apprehended. They manifest themselves in ethnical, linguistic, or social characteristics. [59]

 

I confess: despite my perverse anthropological interest in evil theoreticians (a pacifists guilty pleasure), I couldnt finish Denikers book. I can only digest texts that are sincere and make some sense. Luckily, theres plenty of better-organized racists. Arguably the most important contributor [60] to the biodeterminist/racist theory in the twentieth century is Madison Grant (18651937). In The Passing of the Great Race (1916) he declares:

 

There exists [] a widespread and fatuous belief in the power of environment, as well as of education and opportunity to alter heredity, which arises from the dogma of the brotherhood of man. [...] Such beliefs have done much damage in the past, and may do much more serious damage in the future. Thus the view that the negro slave was an unfortunate cousin of white man, deeply tanned by the tropic sun, and denied the blessings of Christianity and civilization [] We shall have a similar experience with the Polish Jew, whose dwarf stature, peculiar mentality, and ruthless concentration on self-interest are being engrafted upon the stock of the nation [61].

 

And yet, only 10 pages later, Grant uses environment to explain the cause:

 

Mountaineers [are] tall and vigorous probably due to the rigid elimination of defectives by the unfavorable environment. [...] The short stature of Lappsmay have been originally attributable to the trying conditions of an Arctic habitat, but in any event it has long since become a racial character.

 

Even more inconsistently, Grant uses a Buffonian argument involving recent changes:

 

The whites in Georgia, the Bahamas, and above all Barbadoes are excellent examples of the deleterious effects of residence outside of the natural habitat of the Nordic race. [62]

 

Grant was not a just weirdo from some fringe militia group; he was a close friend of Presidents Roosevelt and Hoover, chairman of the New York Zoological Society, councilor of the American Geographic Society, a director of the American Eugenics Society, and vice president of the Immigration Restriction League [63]. His work is a footprint for Nazi racial policies, including not just ideas like Nordic race under attack, but also eugenicist tactics:

 

A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfitwould solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. [...] This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to the criminal, the diseased, and the insane and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types. [64]

 

Grants logic, in a more systematic way, is well presented by Hans Friedrich Karl Gunther (1891-1968). "The pride of the NSDAP" of 1935, a Holocaust-denier till his death, he wrote the influential Nordic Idea, published in 1927. The basic logic of the book follows:

 

  1. All modern nations are mixedthere are no pure nations.
  2. Races were originally all the same, and possibly dark, definitely darker.
  3. Some of them migrated into a cold climate (which was possibly more extreme then).
  4. Facing adversity, they had to struggle; as a result, they developed characteristic

physiology and character traits.

  1. This characteristic physiology can be measured by exact scientific methods (cranium shape, hair, skin color, eye color, nose shape, posture, etc.).
  2. They conquered their way back, became ruling classes of many inferior nations.
  3. As long as they didnt intermix, they kept their character traits.
  4. In different territories, they were weakened by softer climate and strange diseases.
  5. The Jews introduced capitalism, and as a result, upward mobility.
  6. As a result, classes started mixing.
  7. Racial mixing leads to degeneration and to the decline of moral order.

 

One might say that the racists are one-time environmental determinists: as Immanuel Kant states in On the Different Races of Man(1775) [65]: Once a race had been founded it could not be changed into another race by any further influences of climate. Or, more vulgarly, according to the founder of modern racism, the peculiarly philosemitic Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau (18161882), The brutish fellah is tanned by the same sun as scorched the powerful priest of Memphis; the learned professor of Berlin lectures under the same inclement sky that once beheld the wretched existence of the Finnish savage. [66]

In a way, biodeterminists are extreme environmental determinists: they consider the original environmental impact to be strong enough to cause an effect similar to formation of a new species. Historically then, the two streams of thought represent, respectively, an intraspecies (my sister can be nasty, but shes still my sister) vs. interspecies (those people are like rats) approach to the Other. In that sense, World War I was an intraspecies war [67]; World War II was, at least in part, an interspecies war; and the Cold War might signify a return back to the intraspecies approach (Russians love their children too).

Consequently, the debate is back, on a different level, but over the same issues. On the environmental determinist side, we find people like Jared Diamond and Jeffrey Sachs. They essentially revive environmental determinism following the path predicted by G. Manley in 1958 (op.cit, p. 105): The maintenance of indoor warmth in a cold spring adds greatly to the fuel bill in other words, despite technology helping humans overcome the environment, it still influences human behavior, if not directly, then through economics, as well as through writing, food production, and other factors [68]. According to Jeffrey Sachs:

 

[There is] strong evidence that geography plays an important role in shaping the distribution of world income and economic growth. Coastal regions and those near navigable waterways are indeed far richer and more densely settled than interior regions. [...] Moreover, an areas climate can also affect its economic development. Nations in tropical climate zones generally face higher rates of infectious disease and lower agricultural productivity (especially for staple foods) than do nations in temperate zones. Similar burdens apply to the desert zones. The very poorest regions in the world are those saddled with both handicaps: distance from sea trade and a tropical or desert ecology [69].

 

In Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), Jared Diamond sums up this approach: History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves. [70]

Diamonds views have been criticized by everyone and their anthropologist [71]. Some of his arguments, like the Eurasian opposition of East-West compared to the American opposition of North-South, seem indeed like a bit of stretch. Serious criticism of Diamond came from a libertarian perspective: yes, environment is an influencing factor, but people can choose to respond to environmental challenges in many different ways [72]. In that vein, Diamonds focus has somewhat shifted between Guns, Germs and Steel (1997) and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Succeed (2005):the comparison of Haiti and the Dominican Republic makes him rely less on geography and more on peoples choices [73].

In 2006, the Archaeology division of the American Anthropological Association held a special panel to address the issues swirling around the popular writings of Jared Diamond, especially the 2005 publication of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Succeed and his earlier Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. The resulting book is a classic example of the modern style of debate: point out some inconsistencies, then finish with a big condemning label [74]. Following this style, the book opens with an chapter on the deforestation of the Easter Island. It wasnt the ecocide claimed by Diamond, the authors argue, because the islanders didnt cut down all the palm-treesrats brought by settlers decimated the palm-tree nuts [75]. After this deep (and possibly correct) analysis, all the reader has to do is look towards the end of the book for the grand condemnation. And here it is: Diamond is defending the haves and blaming the have-nots. [76] The deed is done, the goal is reached: I hear Jared Diamond has been debunked by serious anthropologists. [77]

The goal is reached, but questions remain, and bigger than ever. Are we closing our eyes on a large volume of empirical data? In general, can we investigate anything without formulating some kind of grouping theory (maybe not Diamonds, but some kind of theory)? Wouldnt Darwins entire system be dismissed by modern scholars as specism?

Asking these questions is especially important today, when biodeterminismenvironmental determinisms evil twinis also enthusiastically revived. It seems that history is trying to repeat itself, in a pattern described by B. Isaac:

 

[A] scientific breakthroughmade it possible to develop a pseudo-scientific form of racism, based on current biological theory. The advantage for the racist of the latter concept was that it seemed to give a justification for prejudice, based on influences entirely from within. Genetics were used to build a theory of constant and unchangeable characteristics for entire groups of people [78].

 

Enter the haplogroup. According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, geneticists identified small sections on the Y-chromosome and in the mitochondria where the DNA does not inter-mix and also changes very slowly. The markers in these sections are passed down from generation to generation along gender lines. [79] Using these markers we can track somebodys lineage. Moreover, according to Amy Harmon for the New York Times:

 

As early humans split off in different directions, distinct mutations accumulated in the DNA of each population. Like bread crumbs, these genetic markers, passed on intact for millennia, can reveal the trail of the original pioneers. All non-Africans share a mutation that arose in the ancestors of the first people to leave the continent, for instance. But the descendants of those who headed North []carry a different marker from those who went southeast toward Asia [80].

 

These efforts produced a torrent of discussions about sensitivity to local concepts and relations, both of which are central for postcolonial anthropology. [81] To the astonishment of the sensitive scientists, many indigenous people flatly refused to get post-colonized: they know what comes out of this kind of research [82]. First, you give a DNA swab, and next, in the words of Dr. D. Barrett of the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board quoted by the Times: What if it turns out youre really Siberian and then, oops, your healthcare is gone?

One might think that haplotheorists are not real determinists, since they only operate in percentages. Well, so did their predecessors: miscegenation is arguably one of the favorite topics of racist theoreticians. So are haplogroups: haplogroup musings have long since comfortably populated various neo-Nazi sites and discussion forums.

Obviously, phrenology differs from mtDNA-testing as much as creationism differs from real research. Or does it? Most of the space on haplotype heatmaps is taken by <50% (of the population belonging to a certain group). As an old physicist once joked, after listening to a presentation on a weather forecast system that boasted 47% accuracy: Change your calculations to the opposite, and accuracy would reach a whopping 53%.

Most disturbingly, popular faith in science is exactly the same as it was eighty years ago. In the memoir Europa, Europa, a Jewish teenager, pretending to be German, ends up in a Hitler Youth School. A professor calls him in front of the class to demonstrate, to the kids horror, the methods of racial identification. After careful examination, he finally concludes:

 

Josef is a typical descendant of the Eastern Baltic race. Heaven be praised! At this instant thousands of research projects by Nazi racial scholars reached a point of utter absurdity [...] A proven man of science has handed me a superb report card. Suddenly I saw myself confirmed as an Aryan [83].

 

One would argue that genetics doesnt attribute character traits to groups of people. Really? How about a gene of altruism [84]? A gene of aggression [85]? Of anti-social behavior [86]? How long till someone decides that a group of people has higher prevalence of, say, an anti-social marker, and proposes to sterilize them for the sake of human progress? One might say: this is a question for bioethics, genetics carries potential dangers since its inception, regardless of biodeterminism. True. But scientific racial attribution greatly amplifies these dangers. It gives the complacent, prejudiced majority something to work with. Nazis didnt measure craniums of every Jew they arrested. They relied on records, on self- and neighborly identification. Biodeterminism laid the foundation for their actions, nothing more. To make sure it doesnt happen again, we must urgently promote real science. Real science always strives to become black-and-white, but never stops doubting its current findings. Often, real science looks at itself in the mirror and admits:

 

The large number of novel SNPs raises concerns regarding the ability of current genotyping arrays to capture effectively the true extent of genetic diversity and haplotype structure [...] This discrepancy underscores the inadequacy of current SNP arrays for analyzing southern African populations [87].

 

Or, more categorically, from J. Craig Venter, the man who sequenced the human genome:

 

We have, in truth, learned nothing from the genome other than probabilities. How does a 1 or 3 percent increased risk for something translate into the clinic? It is useless information [88].

 

Will we listen to real scientists or to some Nordic-looking science reporter? What will we do with the issues that often accompany novel theories? Will we hide behind statistics, that cowardly modern religion? Will we wrap our brains in metaphysics so we can later blame God for the evil weve chosen to do? Will we brag about our heritage at dinner parties?

Heritage cant be changed. As Nazis used to say about baptized Jews, Die Taufe magganznuetzlich sein, doch glattet sie kein Nasenbein. [89] A Jew can live in the north, have blue-eyes, straight nose, and blonde hair. For mtDNA-worshippers, he will remain a Jew. If you think its not urgent, or that its all in the past, please compare these maps [90]:


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2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why do I greet strangers in Iowa, but not in California, no matter how rural? Why do I start cursing slow drivers the second I cross the Mississippi to enter Iowa from Illinois?Should I simply censor my thoughts and language? I dont think so. Yes, lazy generalizations open the door for prejudice. But, as products of our natural curiosity, they can also fuel major discoveries that are impossible in a culture that chooses to be color-blind. [91] On the other hand, thoughtless belief in our unchangeable traits has already killed millions.

Does it mean that we need to start banning some research because of the potentially dangerous outcome? Absolutely not. But I think we should require warning labels on any commercial or popular interpretations. Just like on cigarettes, it should say: Tracing your heritage can seriously harm you and those around you. Or, Incorrect interpretation of genetics may cause war, genocide, slavery, and retardation.

Most importantly, we should reexamine our focus. While fighting for windmills, we have embraced the tools for true racism. We did so, because we have lost our intellectual courage and desire for clarity. We shop for truth like we shop for trousers: instead of looking for one that will serve us for a while, we are conditioned by the postmodernist capitalism to be in a continuous state of shopping for almost good ones, destined to be ruthlessly dropped by the nearest Goodwill at the end of the season [92]. That is, if we shop at all: barraged by advertising, we consider a weak show of our twittered attentions to be the only value worth displaying. Like Christmas trees bulging with thoughtless gifts, our colleges can hardly contain nauseating volumes of impersonal almost-truths. Meanwhile, homemade with love and imperfections, the Truth is left to wait, punished for trying to make us feel.

And not just the Truth. As early as 1887, Franz Boas (1858-1942) laid this accusation (against the naturalists):

 

Joyfully he sees that every process and every phenomenon which seem to the stranger an irregular and incomprehensible conglomerate is a link in a long chain. Losing sight of the single facts, he sees only the beautiful order of the world [93]?

 

The fact that it was written by Boas, who tirelessly fought for true science against one-dimensionality of all determinisms, does not mean that we have to stop looking for the beautiful order of the world. At the same time, just because it was Gobineau who wrote that beauty is an absolute and necessary idea, admitting of no arbitrary application, [94] does not mean we should let the knaves and fools monopolize the idea of beauty.

We should really try again to create or to find something beautiful. In order to do it, we have to first get rid of the paralyzing guilt. Yes, we are likely all prejudiced, but we are definitely not all racist. We should not blur this important line between prejudice, which is nothing more than misdirected curiosity, and racism, which is nothing but well-aimed indifference. We should free the difference out of indifference. We should examine it with pure excitement, like children do. We should study it with care and honesty, like adults do. And, most of all, we should enjoy it and celebrate it, like people do.

 

Acknowledgements

 

For general inspiration and challenging discussions, I am deeply grateful to prof. Harold Kasimow (Department of Religious Studies, Grinnell College), prof. Jonathan Andelson (Department of Anthropology, Grinnell College), Kabenla Armah (Wilhelm Imaging Research), Michael Krelin (WebToGo, Munich, Germany), Dr. Alex Leontovich (Bioinformatics Core Facility, Mayo Clinic) and Gemma Goodale-Sussen (Department of English, University of Iowa).

 

 

***

 

  1. 10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories. Eds. Lewis and Faye Copeland. New York: Doubleday & Co, 1939.
  2. Morris Freilich. Ecology and Culture: Environmental Determinism and the Ecological Approach in Anthropology. Anthropological Quarterly 40.1 (Jan. 1967):26-43.
  3. Cf, e.g, an interesting article on 1892 elections:Jeffrey Ostler. Why the Populist Party Was Strong in Kansas and Nebraska but Weak in Iowa. The Western Historical Quarterly 23:4 (Nov., 1992): 451-474.
  4. An Iowan was once helping me move my couch. A foot North! Now six inches West! he kept screaming. I was desperately looking for the Sun, but the day was cloudy. Cf. an old Soviet joke about 2 chuckchas sitting on a shore of the Arctic Ocean, scared to talk politics, because they will arrest me and send me way up North.
  5. Jared Diamond has similar discussion in Guns, Germs and Steel (NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 1999, p.18).
  6. Even if theres only one scale of progress, for those who are pinned on it, progress means nothing but a few extra miles of time: the rich can buy flat-screen TVs a few years before the poor. In the words of Levi-Straus: None of this aims at denying the reality of progress of mankind, but it invites us to consider it with greater care. (Claude Levi-Strauss. Race and History. Structural Anthropology, NY: Basic Books, 1976, Vol. 2, p 337.)
  7. Lots of Holocaust perpetrators were highly educated; all of them followed the law. On the other hand, every person who saved a Jew, did so against the law, and in lots of places, against collective morals as well. Besides, grouping people by moral criteria is an ungrateful task: morals are either highly individual or universal; neither can be constructively applied to large groups of people.
  8. [The] theory known as the Bayesian brainconceptualizes the brain as a probability machine that constantly makes predictions about the world and then updates them based on what it senses. Gregory T. Huang, Is this a unified theory of the brain? New Scientist Magazine 2658 (28 May 2008): 30-33.
  9. Clearly, the truth is a combination of both approaches. Kropokin writes: The dominating tendency of modern research isa synthesis of the two chief factors of evolution: the Buffon-Lamarckian factor including the variations called forth by a changing environment, and the Darwin-Wallacian factor of Natural Selection. Pyotr Kropotkin. The Direct Action of Environment and Evolution. The Nineteenth Century (Jan. 1919).
  10. Of course, there are many more systems, such as cultural determinism. However, as far as regional character goes, social attributes are symptomatic rather than causal; so in order not create circular logic (local culture determines local culture), we must concentrate on these two, rather extreme, points of view.
  11. Not to complicate the issues, we will not discuss the debate between polygenesists and monogenesists.
  12. Cf. Aristotle: Those who live in a cold climate and in Europe are full of spirit, but wanting in intelligence and skill; and therefore they retain comparative freedom, but have no political organization, and are incapable of ruling over others. Whereas the natives of Asia are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in spirit, and therefore they are always in a state of subjection and slavery. But the Hellenic race, which is situated between them, is likewise intermediate in character, being high-spirited and also intelligent. Hence it continues free, and is the best-governed of any nation, and, if it could be formed into one state, would be able to rule the world. Aristotles Politics, trans. Benjamin Jowett. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905, B.VII, Ch. 7., pp. 270-271.
  13. In Ethics, Kropotkin writes: To learn about the beginnings of moral conceptions, we must study those savages who were able to preserve some features of the tribal mode of life, from the time of the earliest Post-glacial period. [It is] best preserved by the savages of the extreme North the Aleuts, the Chukchi, and the Eskimos, and also by some tribes of the extreme South, and by small remnants of tribes that survived in some mountain regions. To which a modern scholar replies: Early anthropologist who tried to explain whythe Arctic peoples occupied such bleak northern regionstended to suggest that their ancestors had been pushed north by hostilities, or were prevented from moving southwards by aggressively territorial forest populations. However it seems likely that the ancestors of most Arctic peoples chose these regions for the prosperous life that they provided. Robert McGhee. The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World. Oxford University Press, 2005. pp. 36-37.
  14. Translation: Gordon, Thomas.
  15. Who by all accounts had no problem believing in mutual aid, himself being the kindest man alive.
  16. A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future. - E. Renan. Lecture delivered at the Sorbonne, 11 March 1882. Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? Oeuvres Completes (Paris, 1947-61), Vol. I, pp. 887-907.
  17. P.A. Kropotkin. "Finland: A Rising Nationality." The Nineteenth Century (March 1885): 527-546.
  18. V. Pustarnakov demonstrates how Kropotkins socio-historical views were formed by his geographical ones, and, effectively, by the underlying thesis that climate and soil determine human evolution. .. , .. . . . ., . 150- . .. . ., 1997. . 2: .. - . p. 110126.
  19. / . .. , - . . . . - .. , .. [ .] ., ". . . . -" 1871, . 3). [p. 45-46].
  20. Gabriel Judkins, Marissa Smith, and Eric Keys. Determinism within humanenvironment research and the rediscovery of environmental causation. The Geographical Journal 174.1 (March 2008):1729; For a detailed historical account, see Clarence Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: UC Press, 1967
  21. Ellen C. Semple. Influences of Geographic Environment: On the basis of Ratzels system of anthropo-geography. Russel & Russel, 1968, pp.620-621.
  22. Gordon Manley. The Revival of Climatic Determinism. Geographical Review 48.1 (Jan. 1958): 98-105.
  23. E. Huntington, Changes of Climate and History. The American Historical Review 18.2 (Jan. 1913): 213-232.
  24. E. Huntington. Climatic Changes. The Geographical Journal 44.2 (Aug. 1914): 203-210; Climatic Pulsations. Geografiska Annaler 17, Supplement: Hyllningsskrift Tillagnad Sven Hedin (1935): 571-608.
  25. E. Huntington. A Neglected Factor in Race Development. The Journal of Race Development 6.2 (Oct. 1915): 183.
  26. E. Huntington. Temperature Optima for Human Energy. PNAS 3.2 (Feb. 1917).
  27. For an interesting account of the question, see John E. Chappell, Jr. Climatic Change Reconsidered: Another Look at The Pulse of Asia. Geographical Review 60.3 (Jul. 1970): 347-373.
  28. The buffalo is a surprisingly stupid animal. In: E. Huntington. The Red Mans Continent: A Chronicle of Aboriginal America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1919.
  29. E. Huntington. Geography and Natural Selection: A Preliminary Study of the Origin and Development of Racial Character. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 14.1 (Mar. 1924):1-16. Cf., also: The precise contribution of either heredity or environment is problematical. For the present we can merely repeat that both are essential to the formation of individuals character. E. Huntington, Tomorrows Children. The Goal of Eugenics. NY: Wiley&Sons, 1935, pp 21-22.
  30. In 1934-1938; to his credit, he slightly denazified American eugenics.
  31. E. Huntington. Neglected Tendency in Eugenics. Social Forces 12.1 (Oct. 1933):1-8.
  32. Less than two years later, Huntington contradicts his own findings: The families of college graduates tend to be exterminated, because of the average they do not have more than two children apiece. People who are receiving public aid, on the contrary, especially the less competent types, have two or three times as many. - see E. Huntington, Tomorrows Children. The goal of Eugenics. NY: Wiley&Sons, 1935, p10.
  33. E. Huntington. The Climatic Factor as Illustrated in Arid America. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1914.
  34. Thomas Griffith Taylor. Environment, Race and Migration. Chicago: UC Press, 1937, p. 462.
  35. It is the variation in the environment which is the most potent factor of all in influencing human evolution, whether biological or social. (op.cit., p.4)
  36. Predating J. Sachs by 70 years, Taylor describes the command of the sea as a condition of material prosperity. However he uses temperature/coal distribution to incorrectly predict the future; he declares Asians to be more advanced than other races; he also calmly talks about future extinction of primitive races (complacency is arguably environmental determinisms biggest flaw.) Interestingly, Huntingtons criticism of Taylor in Geography and History (op. cit, p. 572), is exactly correct. Taylor claims that Britain, Germany, Bohemia and Belgium will lose their industrial power when their coal supplies are exhausted. Huntington rebuffs: long before the coal is exhausted these countries will have devised other methods of obtaining power. They may harness the sun, the wind, the waves, or the heat of the earths interior (he also mentions petroleum, which Taylor strangely ignores:Oil supply is a vital factor <..> But so much of it comes from the United States and Baku, that it is not likely to lead to many new industrial regions (Taylor, op.cit., p.438).
  37. Jesse Olvey. A practical system of modern geography: or a view of the present state of the world, simplified and adapted to the capacity of youth. Hartford: Robinson & Co, 1829.
  38. Environmental determinism, I argue, was geography's contribution to Social Darwinist ideology, providing a naturalistic explanation of which societies were fittest in the imperial struggle for world domination. Richard Peet. The Social Origins of Environmental Determinism. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 75.3 (Sep. 1985): 309-333.
  39. Harm de Blij, The Power of Place. Geography, Destiny, and Globalizations Rough Landscape. Oxford University Press, 2009, p.55.
  40. Mark Bassin. Geographical Determinism in Fin-de-siecle Marxism: Georgii Plekhanov and the Environmental Basis of Russian History. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82. 1 (Mar. 1992):3-22.
  41. P.A. Kropotkin. "What Geography Ought to Be." The Nineteenth Century 18 (1885): 940-956.
  42. This dichotomy peaceful intent/prejudiced content continues in geography textbooks. Cf. F. Stull, R. W. Hatch, Journeys Through Many Lands. A Textbook in New Geography. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1938. After promising a sympathetic treatment of peoples in an effort to establish at an early age those friendly relations upon which rest the peace and well being of the world, the authors reproduce the same attitudes expressed by J. Olvey over a century before: Because the white men cannot stand work in the heat, native Indians work for them gathering latex.[] As the Eskimo is more advanced than the Amazon Indian, so the Lapp is a bit more advanced than the Eskimo; [] Negroes are sturdier and more intelligent than the Pigmies; Norwegians are big and strong, with blue eyes and blonde hair. They are hardy, honest, industrious, and intelligent. How could peoplehelp being strong and hardy in such a bracing climate as that of Norway? (the 1946 edition of this textbook keeps all the statements, except, for some reason, the latex one.)
  43. Op. cit., pp.465. Taylor believed that the cultural difference between races can be overcome in one generation; he supported mixed marriages and immigration. To be fair, Taylor was not completely progressive; he also claimed the real racial difference between blacks and everyone else. A true environmental determinist, he said that this difference would take a long time to be solved, but we should suspend final judgment until [Blacks] have had equal opportunities with the other races for several generations. (p.466)
  44. I do not find that there is anything barbaric or savage about this nation unless we are to call barbarism whatever differs from our own customs. [] I think it is more barbaric to tear apart through torture, or to burn it alive by bits (as we have [seen] among neighbors and fellow-citizens under the pretext of piety and religion.) in: Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 2, Harcourt Brace College Publishing, 1999.
  45. See Pustarnakov, op.cit,: - .
  46. In footnote [54] to his Mutual Aid, Kropotkin argues: to the arguments already opposed to the degeneration theory, the following may be added. [...] The territories [primitive tribes] inhabit now are still sub-glacial, as to their physical features; their arts and implements are those of the Neolithic age; and, notwithstanding their racial differences, [...] their modes of life and social institutions bear a striking likeness. So we cannot but consider them as fragments of the early post-glacial population of the now civilized area.
  47. Buffon is noted in Darwins Origin of Species as the first author who in modern times has treated [the origin of species] in a scientific spirit. Along with climate, Buffon also mentions slavery as one of the causes of degeneration. In an amazingly modern way, he calls domestication of animals slavery: we shall be astonished at the degree to which tyranny can degrade and disfigure Nature.
  48. Warwick Anderson. Climates of Opinion: Acclimatization in Nineteenth-Century France and England. Victorian Studies 35.2 (Winter, 1992): 135-157
  49. A. S. Pushkin, Tatiana Wolff, John Bayley: Pushkin on literature Northwestern University Press, 1998
  50. but harmful is the North to me. Alexandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin. Trans. by Vladimir Nabokov. Vol. I. Princeton/Bollingen, 1975. p. 96.
  51. a hint of the Southern exile. P. added a comment to this verse: written in Bessarabia.. .. : ; , 19601990; : . .: -, 1995.p. 549
  52. Alexandr Pushkin, op. cit.. Vol. II, Commentary and Index, p. 37
  53. Pushkin, To Yuriev (1818).
  54. Pushkins Prose Tales. Trans. By T. Keane. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1916, p. 428
  55. The Negro (1773). Philosophical Letters. In: The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version., trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901).,Vol. XIX.
  56. Vol. III, p. 443-446. This was Buffons response to Linnaeus, who in Xth ed. of Systema Naturae (1755) added character to his classification: HOMO. Sapiens varying by education and situation; 3. Copper-coloured, choleric; erect. American obstinate, content, free. Paints himself with fine red lines. Regulated by customs. 4. Fair, sanguine, brawny. European: gentle, acute, inventive. Covered with cloth vestments. Governed by laws. 5. Sooty; melancholy, rigid. Asiatic severe, haughty, covetous; Covered with loose garments. Governed by opinions: 6. Black, phlegmatic; relaxed. African crafty, indolent, negligent. Anoints himself with grease; Governed by caprice. A general system of nature : through the three grand kingdoms of animals, vegetables and minerals. Trans. from Gmelin's last edition. London: Lackington, Allen and Co. ,1800-1881. p.9). Ironically, it is Buffon is referred in literature as the source of the scientific notion of race., see. e.g. Nancy D. Fortney, The Anthropological Concept of Race, Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Sep., 1977), pp. 35-54.
  57. Garsilaso de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru, Abridged. Trans. Harold V. Livermore. Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company, Inc. 2006.
  58. Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1992.
  59. J. Deniker, The Races of Man. An Outline of Anthropology and Ethnography. London: Walter Scott, 1900.
  60. For the lack of space we skip such interesting specimens as Henry Thomas Buckle(1821-1862), Jean Jacques Elisee Reclus (1830-1905), Friedrich Ratzel (1844 1904), notable for first using the term Lebensraum ("living space"), William Zebina Ripley (1867 1941), and Carleton S. Coon (1904 1981). A huge issue would be analyzing the writers of the Enlightenment, as well as the figures of Lamarck and Darwin. We also admit to Foucauldian fallacy of limiting our overview with Western world attitudes.
  61. Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, or Racial Basis of European History. NY: Scribners Sons, 1916, p. 14.
  62. Op.cit., p 35. Its amazing how right after this passage, Grant talks about degeneration of whites in the mountains of Kentucky, favorable to Nordics, due to other hereditary forces at work as yet little understood.
  63. How many innocent people did American immigration policy kill thanks to Grant?
  64. Not surprisingly, it was the first non-German book to be translated and published by the Nazi Reich press, and Grant proudly displayed to his friends a letter from Hitler claiming that the book was "his Bible."
  65. E.W. Count, ed., This is Race, An Anthology Selected from the International Literature on the Races of Man, New York, Henry Schuman, 1950, pp. 16-24
  66. Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915, p. 38.
  67. between cousins Willy, Nicky and Georgie. See Robert A. Kann. Dynastic Relations and European Power Politics (1848-1918). The Journal of Modern History 45.3 (Sep., 1973): 387-410.
  68. This connection is, of course, nothing new (cf. e.g. H.H. Clayton, Influence of Rainfall on Commerce and Politics. Popular Science Monthly 60, 1902). What is new and very symptomatic of the XXth century is the belief in indirectness and complexity of the underlying system. As Franz Boas wrote in 1930: The relations between geographical environment and fundamental economic conditions are close, and in most cases the environment acts through the intermediary of economic conditions. These, being a part of culture, are much more closely related to other manifestations of cultural life than environment. Franz Boas, Anthropology, in Edwin R. A. Seligman, Ed., Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, NY: Macmillan, 1930, Vol II, p. 100.
  69. Sachs, Jeffrey D., Andrew D. Mellinger and John L. Gallup. "The Geography of Poverty and Wealth."   Scientific American.  March 2001.
  70. Guns, Germs and Steel. NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 1999, p.25
  71. Diamonds favorite Papua-New Guineans have even sued him for misrepresentation. See, e.g., http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/latest-journalism-news-updates-149.php
  72. See, e.g, Gene Callahan, The Diamond Fallacy, Daily Mises. March 28, 2005, http://mises.org/daily/1774.
  73. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Succeed, New York : Viking, 2005. pp.329-357.
  74. Patricia McAnany, Norman Yoffee. Questioning collapse: human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the aftermath of empire. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010, p.2
  75. Terry L. Hunt and Carl P. Lipo. Ecological catastrophe, collapse, and the myth of "ecocide" on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Op. cit., pp.21-44.
  76. Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz. Excusing the haves and blaming the have-nots in the telling of history. Op. Cit, pp.329-349.
  77. The goal is reached, and here is the motive: we also want to write in such way that the public can grasp... the significance of our research.(op. cit. p.5). Well, whats stopping you? Is it, maybe, your vulgar post-ism? As L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza says the introduction to Genes, Culture, and Human Evolution(Blackwell Publishing, 2007, p. XIX): other very recent enemies of science have especially influenced the field of anthropology. These are so called post-modernists. Some of them believe that science is not a search for truth, but a technology, essentially directed to fit the aims of politicians and capitalists who support it financially. Postmoderns use the emotional power of words, and their ambiguity, to undermine belief in reason.
  78. Benjamin Isaac. Proto-Racism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. World Archaeology 38.1, Race, Racism and Archaeology (Mar., 2006): 32-47.
  79. http://www.isogg.org/. For an interesting and more optimistic discussion, see: William M. Richman, "Genetic Residues of Ancient Migrations: An End to Biological Essentialism and the Reification of Race" (February 17, 2006). U. of Pittsburgh Law Review, 68:387. I really like the authors conclusion that predicts the emergence some time in the near future, of a piece of junk science - complete with pseudo-biological jargon [a theory] that identifies a new variable Z among human populations. The claim will be that existence or amount of Z in some populations compared to others can reveal deep fundamental differences among human groups. But even the minimal dose of molecular genetics supplied here can immunize against that sort of sophistry because it shows conclusively that there simply are no deep fundamental differences to reveal.
  80. Amy Harmon, DNA Gatherers Hit Snag: Tribes Dont Trust Them NY Times, Dec. 10, 2006.
  81. Gisli Palsson. Genomic Anthropology: Coming In from the Cold? Current Anthropology 49.4 (Aug. 2008): 545-568. The author spends pages discussing post-colonial sensitivities.
  82. Anthropology is always stuck between two damaging approaches of either accepting them the way they are or trying to civilize them. Kropotkin brilliantly describes it in Mutual Aid: Ignorance, not cruelty, maintains infanticide; and, instead of moralizing the savages with sermons, the missionaries would do better to follow the example of Veniaminoff, who, every year travelled on dogs among his Tchuktchis, supplying them with bread and fishing implements. He thus had really stopped infanticide. (p. 69)
  83. Solomon Perel. Europa, Europa. NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1997. p. 96 (made into a movie in 1990)
  84. M. Reuter, C. Frenzel, N. T. Walter, S. Markett, C. Montag. Investigating the genetic basis of altruism: the role of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2010).
  85. Rose McDermott, Dustin Tingley, Jonathan Cowden, Giovanni Frazzetto and Dominic D. P. Johnson. Monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) predicts behavioral aggression following provocation. PNAS 106.7 (February 17, 2009): 2118-2123.
  86. Adrian Raine, From Genes to Brain to Antisocial Behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science 17.5 (October 2008):323-328.
  87. Vanessa M. Hayes et al., Complete Khoisan and Bantu genomes from southern Africa, Nature 463 (18 Feb. 2010): 943-947.
  88. We Have Learned Nothing from the Genome. An Interview with J. Craig Venter. Der Spiegel, 07/29/2010.
  89. Baptism may be quite useful, but it cannot straighten a nose. - Doris L. Bergen, Twisted cross: the German Christian movement in the Third Reich. UNC Press, 1996
  90. The second map is adapted from S. Rootsi et al. Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup I Reveals Distinct Domains of Prehistoric Gene Flow in Europe. American Journal of Human Genetics 75 (2004):128137. Its based on a surprisingly small number of subjects (e.g., Germans: 16; Danish: 194; Bosnians: 100; overall, 7574 European males and 1479 contrasts). Moreover, Latvians (86) have 7% of Hg I, while Turks (794), ho are not supposed to have it at all, have 5.1%, which authors conveniently explain by migration.
  91. In the words of Levi-Strauss, The nature of the diversity must be investigated even at the risk of allowing the racial prejudices whose biological foundation has so lately been destroyed to develop again on new grounds. [...] We cannot [...] claim to have formulated a convincing denial of the inequality of the human races, so long as we fail to consider the problem of the inequalityor diversityof human cultures, which is in facthowever unjustifiablyclosely associated with it in the public mind. (Race and History. Paris: Unesco, 1971)
  92. Cf. Susan Sontag: In my view whats called postmodernism that is, the making everything equivalent, -- is the perfect ideology for consumerist capitalism. It is an idea of accumulation, of preparing people for their shopping expeditions.(In: Evans Chan. Against Postmodernism, etcetera. A Conversation with Susan Sontag. Postmodern Culture 12.1 (Sept. 2001). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.) It seems infinitely ironic that the only scholars whose work is fully defined by social factors are those who tend to explain everything by social factors.)
  93. The Study of Geography, Science, vol 9(1887). In: Franz Boas, Race, Language and Culture, NY: Free Press 1966, pp.644-645.
  94. Arthur Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races. NY: J.P. Putnams Sons, 1915.

 

 

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