Anthropology/Query on Race


Good day
I was reading that DNA evidence proves that most people as diverse as they may be are more than 99% genetically the same.
With reference to race, I was wondering, how did the concept of race come about. Were there any civilizations in history where race was non existent and people were not classed by race.

Hi S. Mahabir,

There were a number of societies where the color of the skin was a non-issue.  The Ancient Egyptians for instance had "color blindness" as did the ancient Babylonians.  In some cultures like the Chinese there were very careful distinctions made to "looks" but skin color was not an issue until much later (in the 1400's when Europeans first arrived in China).  But one thing is important to remember, in many cases these cultures were relatively isolated from each other and the contact were typically viewed as higher ranking individuals who, while being a different color, was given the level of respect due to a person of higher stature.  

Racial motivation was mostly a European construct where the "view of superiority" was taken way to far and in which "the concept of manifesdestiny" was an inherent part.  Thus any one of a non-European "race" was considered an "inferior" to the whites of Europe and even the people of the Mediterranean like the Italians and Greeks with their somewhat darker or olive skin, were considered as barely European and were often looked down upon.  You still see this somewhat today with the economic problems of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  The Northern Europeans do not want to "bail them out" and view them as not industrious enough to "pull them selves up economically with out help".  

And of course this is also evident in the colonialism of the 17th to mid 20th century.  World War II broke this notion but unfortunately the racism and bigotry that it spawned has been very tenacious and has only somewhat subsided in parts of the world.  

It is a matter of education, and unfortunately there are far more uneducated people on the planet then educated so, along with food, medicine and better governance, education should be high on the list for all governments for all of its citizens.

I hope I provided the answers you were seeking,  If not, please don't hesitate to ask more questions.


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Ralph Salier


Business Anthropologist. Business negotiations in multiple cultures and working with multiple cultures in the business arena. Broad understanding of business practices and business "ethics" in different parts of the world.


25+ years in international procurement and negotiations.


MA Anthropology, Proximics

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