Can Skeletons Have a Racial Identity?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2021-10-20 01:58Z by Steven

Can Skeletons Have a Racial Identity?

The New York Times

Sabrina Imbler

Forensic anthropologists have relied on features of face and skull bones, known as morphoscopic traits, such as the post-bregmatic depression — a dip on the top of the skull — to estimate ancestry. John M. Daugherty/Science Source

A growing number of forensic researchers are questioning how the field interprets the geographic ancestry of human remains.

Racial reckonings were happening everywhere in the summer of 2020, after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by the police. The time felt right, two forensic anthropologists reasoned, to reignite a conversation about the role of race in their own field, where specialists help solve crimes by analyzing skeletons to determine who those people were and how they died.

Dr. Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University and Jonathan Bethard of the University of South Florida published a letter in The Journal of Forensic Science that questioned the longstanding practice of estimating ancestry, or a person’s geographic origin, as a proxy for estimating race. Ancestry, along with height, age at death and assigned sex, is one of the key details that many forensic anthropologists try to determine.

That fall, they published a longer paper with a more ambitious call to action: “We urge all forensic anthropologists to abolish the practice of ancestry estimation.”

In recent years, a growing number of forensic anthropologists have grown critical of ancestry estimation and want to replace it with something more nuanced…

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The “Melting Pot” A Myth

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2011-01-15 22:48Z by Steven

The “Melting Pot” A Myth

The Journal of Heridity
Volume 8, Number 3 (March 1917)
pages 99-105

Study of Members of Oldest American Families Shows that the Type is Still Very Diverse—No Amalgamation Going on to Produce a Strictly American Sub-Type—Characteristics of the Old American Stock

America as “The Melting Pot” of peoples is a picture often drawn by writers who do not trouble themselves as to the precision of their figures of speech.

Dr. Ales Hrdlicka has been investigating the older contents of this pot, and finds that even the material which went into it first has not yet so melted. Several hundred members of the old, white, American stock have been most carefully measured and examined in many ways, to find whether the people making up this stock are tending to become alike—whether a new sub-type of the human race is being formed here in America, with intermarriage, environment, and under the pressure of outward circumstances.

Dr. Hrdlicka finds very definitely that as yet such is not the case. The force of heredity is too strong to be radically altered in a century” or two, and even the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers, the Virginia cavaliers, the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Huguenots, while possibly not as much unlike as their ancestors probably were, are still far from a real blend.

“The Melting Pot” is a figure of speech; and, as far as physical anthropology is concerned, it will not be anything more in this country, at least for many centuries…

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