Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview

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Westview Press, 2007 - Social Science - 386 pages
4 Reviews
In a sweeping work that traces the idea of race for more than three centuries, Audrey Smedley shows that “race” is a cultural invention that began to appear around the turn of the eighteenth century. In its origin, race was not a product of science but a folk ideology reflecting a new form of social stratification and a rationalization for inequality among the peoples of North America. This third edition incorporates recently published new source materials on the history of race ideology. Because “race” now has global manifestations, it also introduces the work of scholars who are examining the spread of race ideology cross-culturally. The new edition ofRace in North Americaalso looks more closely at the positions and arguments of contemporary race scientists. Although objective scientists have shown that any two humans are 99.9% alike genetically, race scientists maintain that the remaining difference of one-tenth of one percent is highly significant, accounting for many biological and behavioral differences that they assume to be hereditary. Race scientists contend, for example, that there are race differences in diseases and responses to medications, along with differences in intellect and in talent and ability in such fields as sports. Thus, they claim, race is a valid biological concept. Smedley argues that no amount of research into biological or genetic differences can help us understand the phenomenon of race in American society. Race can only be understood as a component of the sociocultural domain, not the domain of biology.

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Review: Race in North America: Origins and Evolution of a Worldview

User Review  - Monica - Goodreads

This was truly an exceptional read! I learned so much about how the social construction of race has impacted the educational system - public schools. This book dives into the historical perspective of ... Read full review

Review: Race in North America: Origins and Evolution of a Worldview

User Review  - Bradley - Goodreads

First book that I read in college & set the tone for what would be a fiercely rapid deconstruction of 18 years of institutional racial brain-washing. Historically describes the distinctive US racial system that has no 'in-between,' in non-transcendental, and is highly institutionalized. Read full review


Some Theoretical Considerations
The Etymology of the Term Race in the English Language
Antecedents of the Racial Worldview
Growth of the English Ideology About Human
The Arrival of Africans and Descent into Slavery
Comparing Slave Systems
The Rise of Science
Antislavery and the Entrenchment of a Racial Worldview
A Different Order of Being
Science and the Growth and Expansion of Race Ideology
TwentiethCentury Developments in Race Ideology
Changing Perspectives on Human Variation in Science
Dismantling the Folk Idea of Race

the Ideology of Race

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Popular passages

Page 252 - They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.
Page 189 - I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than White, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation.
Page 201 - I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.
Page 31 - Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
Page 252 - They show that a perpetual and impassable barrier was intended to be erected between the white race and the one which they had reduced to slavery, and governed as subjects with absolute and despotic power, and which they then looked upon as so far below them in the scale of created beings...
Page 121 - If ever America undergoes great revolutions, they will be brought about by the presence of the black race on the soil of the United States ; that is to say, they will owe their origin, not to the equality, but to the inequality of condition.
Page 77 - We found the people most gentle, loving, and faithful, void of all guile and treason and such as lived after the manner of the Golden Age.
Page 93 - It cannot be, therefore, so bad as we generally conceive it to be; there must be in their social bond something singularly captivating, and far superior to anything to be boasted of among us; for thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those Aborigines having from choice become Europeans...

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About the author (2007)

Audrey Smedley is professor emerita of anthropology and African American studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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