Lecture 1 Biological Anthropology

Hello. Welcome to Anthropology 225, Introduction to Biological Anthropology. My name is Megan Greenholder and I'll be one of your TAs this semester. I don't really like this little video thing, so I'm going to kill that real quick and get it out of the way. I will not be your regular lecturer. That's Doctor Grewsky. I volunteered to lecture today on the history of developmental, blah. I volunteered to lecture on the History of Biological Anthropology as a discipline. Because I think it's terribly important to understand how we came to be where we are as a discipline. In order to understand why we think about certain topics the way we do. It's kind of a pet interest. I was expecting this lecture to be at the other end of the series, but it turns out that I get to introduce the class. So, Welcome to Bioanth. We're not going to go through the whole syllabus, you should already have read that on your own. I just wanted to recount really quickly the goals of this class. There is actually only one. To provide you with an introduction to the field of physical anthropology. Over the course of this semester we're going to look at human genetics and human variation. Primates and primatology, fossil, primates and human ancestors, which is paleoanthropology. Talk about human evolution, and even the applications of evolutionary theory to human behavior. It's not on the syllabus, but it's cliché and naive as it might sound. I personally hope that this class gets you to think about why we study people, and why in these ways. About science and evolution and the impact of these ideas on our understanding of the universe as we observe it. And about what it means to be human. Don't just memorize all the information we throw at you. But also try to think about why it's important. Anyway, enough of that. Today is the introduction to the introduction. But first I wanna talk about what is biological anthropology is now, its areas of study, and why these are considered biological anthropology. Most of these will be covered at greater length later in the course as well. Especially human variation in paleoanthropology, primatology, and bio-archeology. Next we're going to discuss the development of the discipline, major theoretical shifts, etc. When I say theoretical here, I don't mean that I am theorizing that this is what happened. But rather, what they were thinking when they did their research. Theory in a sense is the philosophy of academia. And then finally we will discuss a little bit of politics theory and why it's important to question motives in research. By the end of this lecture you should be able to explain what bioanthropologists in different specializations are trying to do in the broadest sense. And how these goals relate to the overall interests of biological anthropology. Be able to explain why this class is taught from an evolutionary perspective. Be familiar with the historical development of biological anthropology as an academic. Discipline, and be able to discuss the importance of examining the motives of any research or study. I'm personally not concerned about whether you know all the dates and the names of who did what, when. At least, not at this stage, mostly because I, myself, am terrible with both names and dates. That's what reference books and the internet are for. If you ever need to know, you can look it up. What I want you to get out of today's class are the broad strokes of the development of physical anthropology. And a little bit of insight into why the discipline developed the way it did. So, part one. What is Bioanth? Biological anthropology is also known as physical anthropology, bioanth, phsyanth and I have a habit of using all of these terms interchangeably. Sorry about that. We'll talk about the technical distinction between the terms a little bit more in the history section. Biological anthropology is also one of the four major sub-fields in anthropology. You may recall from Ant 201, that here at Texas A and M, we have four fields. Which are, cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and nautical archaeology. In most four field programs, the fourth field is linguistics, not nautical. Each of the four subfields gives a different perspective on what it means to be human. Roughly, how humans interact, and how they behave in the present, how humans evolved and function biologically. How humans lived in the past based on their material culture and how humans think and communicate. This course focuses on the biological aspect of anthropology. Understanding what it means to be homo sapiens and where we came from as a species. Biological anthropology is currently divided into several areas of study. Human Variation, Human Evolution, Primatology, Genetic Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Forensic Anthropology, and Medical Anthropology. All of which contribute to, or are built on, our understanding of what it means to be human, in the biological sense of the word. The study of The study of human variation entails looking at physical differences and similarities between different populations and sometimes different time periods. These differences can range from morphological. Such as is there a functional difference in nose shape and sinus capacity at different latitudes. To biochemical. Is there a difference in the way that people process oxygen if they grow up at different elevations? To genetic, is there a higher rate of genetic resistance to a particular pathogen in one population over another? To ecological, what are the biological needs of the human animal, and how do different populations meet them? This area of interest is most directly related to the original conception of physical anthropology as in, as we will discuss it in part two. The study of human evolution, or paleoanthropology, sometimes referred to as just paleo, examines the fossil record for evidence of our hominid ancestors and cousins. So Pathological evidence for fossil apes as well. Based on teeth, skull morphology, which means the shape, and body proportions. They try to reconstruct when important milestones were reached in human evolution. Such as, bipedality, which is walking on two legs. Encephalization, which is increase in brain size and shifts in major dietary input. So was meat eating important and when did it become important? Sometimes they also attempt to look at behavioral developments through physical correlations. Such as monogamous pairing and the introduction of cooking through analogy to modern primates. This part of Bioant developed largely independently of what was initially called physical anthropology. And was later integrated because in order to define what a thing is, it's helpful to know where it came from. Primatology is the study of non human primates. Primates are our closest living animal relatives. Like cousins on the giant evolutionary family tree. Many primatologists look at primate behavior and the correlation between behavior and different physical attributes. Like body size, mode of locomotion, or sources of food. Many of the conclusions drawn in primatology depend on analogy to living primates such as chimpanzees. Either through application of certain generalizable rules. Such as sexual dimorphism in body size is related to the social organization of the species. When males have to fight for mating rights. They also tend to be much larger than females, and they tend to form single male multi-female groups. Or under the argument that if modern human and non-human primates behave similarly and have similar physical traits. Their common ancestor likely would have as well. Primatology developed as a distinct discipline around the 1930s, but didn't really take off in anthropology until the 1960s. One biological anthropology as a whole with expanding his interest. The study of human genetics and the application of these studies to anthropology is multidisciplinary. At many schools human genetics is considered a part of biology or medical departments or as its own field, not part of anthropology. There are however growing numbers of genetic anthropologists who look at issues of human variation, human evolution. And the differences between humans and non-human primates through genetic differences. There are also genetic techniques used to identify unknown individuals in forensic cases. Genetic studies have been around since the early 20th Century. When they depended on examining different protein formations as a proxy for the actual genetic information. The development of DNA studies began in the 1980s. But new methods developed in the 1990s and early 2000s have allowed wider and more accurate application of genetics to anthropological research questions. When genetics are discussed in anthropology, it is usually by biological anthropologists since it has to do with the physical body. We will not focus on genetics as an individual area of interest this semester. But we will discuss genetic information in the context of evolutionary mechanisms, paleoanthropology, primatology and forensics. Bioarchaeology is a specialization that crosses sub-field lines in anthropology. Being the study of human remains in archaeological contexts. By and large, this means looking at bones. Bio archaeologists determine the number of individuals in context, their age and sex. Any antimortem or perimortem trauma, which might be associated with interpersonal violence. Any evidence of disease which might be seen in the skeleton. They also look at stress markers from work, and chemical evidence of diet an the lo, and the location in which people were born and grew up. In short, they figure out everything they can about ancient individuals based on their bones. Most questions by archaeologists ask are related to a population rather. To individuals, such as, how did nutrition and workload vary for these people, before and after the introduction of maize agriculture? This area of interest, along with modern studies of osteological development came out of early osteological and anthropometric studies. Osteology, by the way, is the study of bones and anthropometric just means measuring people. Science is not very clever with its naming schemes, it, these things just sound cooler in ancient languages. There are two applied fields related to biological anthropology, forensics and medical anthropology. Forensics uses primarily bioarcheological and genetic techniques to identify unknown individuals, causes of death. And long term patterns of trauma for legal purposes. It's for legal purposes part that makes it forensic. This can include individual suspicious deaths or mass deaths like would be found at the World Trade Center or in situations like genocide. I'll be talking more about forensic anthropology at the very end of our lecture series. Medical anthropology is a field largely motivated by social justice and sociological issues. There are many quality of life improvement projects, which include medical anthropology elements. Like bio-archiology, medical anthropology crosses sub field boundaries. Its interests include biological verification of social differences. Different treatments of physical and mental ailments and different approaches to public health in different cultures. So it tends to fall more closely to the culture, to cultural anthropology with some physical elements. Medical anthropology projects can range from facilitating conversations about immigrants, cultural concerns about Western medical practices, in U.S hospitals. To installing sanitary waste disposal units in Bangladesh and explaining their importance to local users of the system. To working with local shamans or midwives to improve prenatal care in regions which do not accept western medical practice. We will not focus on medical anthropology in this class. But if you think it sounds interesting I recommend reading Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. Which discusses many of the problems which arise at the junction between western and non-western healthcare. All Biological Anthropologists today subscribe to an evolutionary perspective. This means that we believe that evolution is a thing. And that its principles can be used to explain how and why all live, including people, has developed in such a way as to thrive in almost every environment on earth. More specifically, we believe in natural selection as the ultimate explanation for why things are the way they are. Out of all the possible variations of things competing for the same resources. The ones that survived were more suited to the to their environments than all other competitors. The principles of evolution and natural selection will be discussed more thoroughly in the next few lectures. But it is important to know right from the beginning that this class will be taught on under the assumption. That natural forces are the only forces directing the development of life as we know it. I think this issue may bear a little bit more explanation. Because this is an assumption which many students seem to take exception to. And I find it's best to address the issue head on. Intelligent design, and other creationist views of the development of life, as we know it. Depend on the idea that a supernatural force has had a hand in shaping or guiding the development of life on Earth. Scientists start by assuming that only natural forces which we can observe today and know must have been involved are involved. This is what is called in statistical arguments a null hypothesis. It is the simplest explanation which we must reject in order to consider more complex explanations. Such as the involvement of both supernatural and natural forces. The only way to prove that a supernatural entity must have had a hand in shaping the development of life. Would be to prove that there is no way that natural forces alone could have done it. There is insufficient evidence. There is insufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis, that only natural forces were involved in shaping life as we know it. Therefore, we must proceed in all scientific disciplines, including biological anthropology, as though natural forces are the only forces are involved. Even if you personally do not believe this to be the case, I must ask you to accept it as a working model, for the purposes of this class. If you are interested in some outside reading, on how evolution works. And what exactly an evolutionary perspective is, I recommend you find a copy of Evolution for Everyone, by David Sloan Wilson. Do it now, before you, and I'd do it now before you have a lot of stuff to do this semester. Both this book and the one I just mentioned, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, are written for popular audience, so they're very easy reads. And you should have more than enough background information, to understand the concepts and problems they're discussing. If you want examples of the natural forces of evolution network, in the world today, I direct you to all the YouTube videos associated with the evolution lecture in the week one folder, in the course materials tab in e-campus, which also should be whether you found this lecture. And of course the Evolution, the Evolution Lecture which is the next one in our lecture series, on to part two. How did we get where we are today? The historical development of biological anthropology. Beginning with the 18th century, pre-anthropology in the age of enlightenment. It was in Europe in the 18th century, which would be the 1700's. That the underlying concepts which would become central to physical anthropology, were developed. Systematic classification of humans into subgroups, was instigated by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, in Systema Naturae, first published in 1735. This was also the first published classification of humans with other, which is to say non-human primates, in one category. Race was formulized as the major typological division of the human species. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German phy, physician and anatomist, was one of the first scholars to combine an interest in racial typology, with cranial morphology studies. Which are two of the major elements, of early physical anthropology. And for this reason, he is sometimes considered one of the founders of physical anthropology. One 18th century American scholar pursued work which foreshadowed that of biological anthropology, Samuel Stanhope Smith at Princeton University. Unfortunately his theoretical, unfortunately his theoretical perspective was not effectively integrated into physical anthropology. This is a shame because, Smith had a much more progressive view of human variation than many of his contemporaries, which is more in line with what we know today. He thought that all humans were members of the same species, with continuous variation, subject to environmental modification. In contrast, the view of race held by most of the 18th century scholars who would become the forefathers of physical anthropology in Europe, was that different races were distinct and immutable. Or even different species, which became an important theoretical point as the discipline developed. A division arose in 19th century Europe between social anthropologists and Darwinian evolutionists, who believed that races can change over time and physical anthropologists, who believed that races were immutable or unchanging. This, this point that races were potentially different species, was actually proposed from both evolutionary and creationist perspectives, with the evolutionist proposing that perhaps they had evolved from different species, or that they had evolved from the same species at different times. And with creationists actually expressing a multi genesis, a polygenesis model, so, God had created them,one after the other. Work which could have developed into physical anthropology in the U.S., was delayed by the American Revolution. The war proper only lasted from 1775 to 1783, but the political upheaval which led to the war begin as early as 1765. Much of the scholarly class, which was in Europe concerned with pursuits such as human variation and anatomy, was in the colonies, instead more concerned with political science, and the formation of government. Moving on to the 19th century, and the official beginnings of physical anthropology. In the US, there were still a few scholars who could be considered predecessors to physical anthropologists. In the US, there were still few scholars who can be considered predecessors to physical anthropologists, but in 1839, Samuel G.Morton, a physician and scientist who made contributions to paleontology, geology, and anatomy, published a massive cranial study on Native Americans. Similar to those produced by European anatomists, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Also, like European scholars, Morton conceptualized races as distinct and immutable. He had a greater influence on American physical anthropology than his predecessor Smith, through, through Ales Hrdlicka Its Czech. It's absolutely the worst name to say in physical anthropology. Charles Darwin, published On the Origin of Species in 1859, and ideas related to evolutions spread rapidly. Darwinian evolutionary ideas were widely rejected by physical anthropologists, because they were not compatible with contemporary ideas about, race and the nature of the human species in general. A division developed in English anthropology left ethnologists, the social or cultural anthropologists, and Darwinian evolutionists on one side, and the majority of physical anthropologists, along with physicians and anatomists on the other. At this point, linguistics had yet to be differentiated from cultural anthropology. Except when it was used in the study of ancient text, which is called epigraphy. And archaeology was largely concerned with the classical world, and antiquarian culture, historical pursuits. Rather than anthropological questions. So, anthropology itself really only consisted of physical, which is what was refered to as anthropology at the time. And cultural, which was then referred to as ethnography. The groups formed different professional societies, which were reconciled in 1871, but the ten year period firmly established physical anthropologists as having a theoretical basis, distinct from cultural anthropologists. In the latter half of the 1800's, physical anthropology became institutionally recognized in European academia. At this point, it was not required to have a degree in anthropology to do physical anthropology, any degree, and making contributions to the field would do. Many of the early physical anthropologists were anatomists, physicians, philosophers or otherwise just interested in people. In Germany and France, physical anthropology was taught through medical institutions, and through medical studies. It very much focused on racial variation and human osteological development. In England, physical anthropological interests were most, were more closely aligned with paleontology, evolution, and archaeology, rather than strictly medical training, and therefore, lean more towards what today we consider paleoanthropology. Paul Broca who we, we, Paul Broca who we will discuss later in the semester related to the region of the brain associated with language, founded four anthropological societies in France between 1859 and 1872. He incorporated many of Morton's ideas into his own. As you may recall, and we will discuss later, Morton and Hrdlicka were American, this suggests that there was quite a lot of communication between anthropologists, such as there were, on both sides of the pond. In England, Thomas Huxley, who was a Darwinian evolutionist, published the first text on physical anthropology in 1863. It was called Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature, and included information on comparative primate anatomy, fossil evidence for human evolution, and information on the natural history of non-human primates. Huxley later went on to study modern human variation. Francis Galton, an English biometrician, so somebody who measures living things, began looking at human development in 1873. Germany had largest numbers, and the strongest scientific establishment of physical anthropologists, both before and after World War I. But much of the history associated with the field has been tarnished by antisemitism, and extremely racist approaches to the study of humans, even compared to contemporaries in other countries. To the extent that there's not a lot of widely available, information on this period, all of which started around 1880's. Which is, also when the discipline became firmly established in German academia. Then following on that, in 1890, Arthur Keith who was British, published his observation on gibbons in Thailand. Which was one of the very first studies on primate behavior in the wild. So that's more or less where we are at the beginning of the 20th century, where the discipline becomes more professionalized, and we have the new physical anthropology. The 20th century up into several shorter time periods as recognizable academic generations started to be produced in American physical anthropology. One of the major themes throughout the 20th century, in contrast to the 19th. Is that there was more emphasis in training students, and influencing future academic directions, rather than on individual works boost, especially because there was somewhat of a bottleneck in American physical anthropology, with only one person, Earnest Hooton. Training students throughout the first half of the century. The focus of physical anthropology, to a certain extent, shifted after World War II, as the United States began to train more students on physical anthropology, than Germany. At the turn of the century, through at the turn of the century in France, Leonce-Pierre Manouvier, which I'm sure I just butchered. Who was one of Broca's students, helped train Hrdlicka, who would later be very influential in the US. And worked on human cranial sexual dimorphism, as well as other osteological issues. Rudolf Martin, a Swiss anthropologist at Zürich, wrote the handbook of physical anthropology, the original title is in German, something. Which was the main reference book throughout the early 20th century, for physical anthropologists. It was published in 1940. So, right at the beginning of World War 1. English scientists Arthur Keith and Grafton Elliot Smith, made significant contributions to comparative primate anatomy, as well as tra, as well as training T Wingate Todd and Earnest A Hooton, who also later became very influential in U.S Physical anthropology. Franz Boas, Boas, Franz Boas, who you may remember from 201 as the father of American anthropology, and a major contributor to. Franz Boas who you may remember from 201 as the father of American anthropology and a major contributor to cultural anthropology conducted experiments in 1912 which show, which showed that races weren't that mutable, with changes in immigrants symbolic index averages, from one generation to the next. This was significant because that was actually one of the measures that had been used, to classify races before this time. In the inter warriors 1918 through 1939, Rudolph Martin, the Swish, the Swiss National we talked about a minute ago, moved to Germany in 1918 where he worked on human growth and development. Field primatology began to develop as a distinct area of interest with multidisciplinary, with a multidisciplinary study of gibbons in Thailand, in 1937, led by psychologist Raymond Carpenter, which included two anthropologists, Adolph Schultz and Sherwood L Washburn, who will become a major player later on. The major themes in physical anthropology in the pre-World War II period, were race, eugenics, human origins, comparative primate anatomy and human skeletal biology or osteology. Other areas of research included human growth and development, anthropometrics, demograph, demography, genetics, epidemiology and statistics. There were only a handful of physical anthropologists in the United States, in this period. The most influential, being Boas, who trained very few students but had a very forward thinking approach to research design. Hrdlicka, who trained no students, but founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 1918, and then the American Association for Physical Anthropology in 1930. And Hooton, who trained so many students that over 50% of Physical Anthropologists today can trace their academic lineage, student to PhD advisor, back to him. Between 1926 and 1939, in 1939 Hooton trained about 20 PHDs in Physical Anthropology. In comparison, only five Physical Anthropology PHDs had been awarded in the United States as whole, from 1880 to 1925. World War II to 1950, so that would include the period of World War II, which was 1939 through 1945 and in its immediate after effects through 1950. During World War II, in the United States, many people who could be considered Physical Anthropologists took a break from academic pursuits in order to do their parts for the war effort. So there was comparatively little development in the field, but there was apparently little interruption. Work picked more or less where it had left off, but with an increase in the number of students seeking degrees. In higher education with the institution of the G I Bill and of course eugenics was no longer a major research area. In other news Sherwood Washburn completed his Ph.D in 1940 under Hooton and became very involved with professional organizations throughout the following decade. Which put him in a position where in 1951 he could publish a seminar paper on what he called the New Physical Anthropology. The New physical anthropology as in vision by Washburn was a lot more like what we know is biological anthropology today. It was supposed to focus on primate and human evolution and human variation, with Darwinian Evolution as the theoretical foundation of the discipline, and genetics as a major unifying perspective. Typological race was supposed to be disposed of as an analytical concept. People could be studied as population. People should be studies as populations rather than types. Finally, there was to be an emphasis on analytical hypothesis driven study over the until then ubiquitous descriptive study. This is not to say that none of this had ever been done before. Boas and a man named Raymond Pearl had done a lot with analytical studies in the previous generation. And there had been Darwinian evolutionists like Huxley since the publish, since the publication of origin almost 100 years before. But these elements had not been systematically included into the discipline of physical anthropology as a whole. By in large, the foresight outlined by Washburn did become widely adopted research goals. But one exception was his perspective on race, which took a while to be adopted. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s race-focused researchers first tried to apply scientific principles to the study of race. And then began to abandon it as they found more and more evidence that race was not a valid system of distinct biological categories. There were however, some major exceptions to this general trend. For example, in 1962, Carleton Coon published On the Origin of Races, which maintained that each race had developed from homo erectus into different, into distinct species at different times. There was, however, more significant backlash against this publication than there had been against previous, similarly racist arguments in the past. A prelude to the kind of reaction which modern physical anthropologists have two suggestions of biological human races. Moving on, from 1960 to 1999, the last section of the 20th century. Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, there was a dramatic increase in the number of physical anthropologists trained in the US. Largely due to the foundation of the to the foundation of the National Science Foundation, which became a major funding agency for anthropology. There was somewhat of a movement toward multiple field approaches in the 1960s, as researchers from different subfields found themselves with common interests in environmental adaptation. In this period, it was expected to a certain extent that physical anthropologists would be generalists, looking at all modern and prehistoric human variation and different aspects of human evolution. But not necessarily primatology. The 1970s saw improvements to the methods of primatological observation bringing field primatology firmly into line with the more systematic research paradigm of the new physical anthropology. The 1990s saw an increase in the tendency toward specialization in the different subareas. Genetics, primatology, modern human variation, paleoanthropology, and the applications of skeletal biology in archeology and forensics. Several major shifts took place in these subareas from the period, in the period, from 1960 to the turn of the century. Don't worry if this, little section here references things that you are unfamiliar with. You will be covering most of them again as you go through the different sub-areas later in the semester like, paleoanthropology. So for genetics. Before the 1990s, genetic studies depended on examining different protein production. Essentially working out the DNA genotype from the visible phenotype. In the 1980s and 1990s, technological advances allowed people, for the first time, to look direct at the DNA genotype itself, rather than working backwards. This was huge, and will make a lot more sense after the Hardy-Weinberg lecture. But it allowed researchers to look at a whole suite of traits directly, to develop different methods to trace lineages, and to determine the dates of separation between lineages, otherwise known as the genetic clock. Which essentially allowed us to attach a solid timeline to the family tree of the animal kingdom. Paleoanthropology. I feel like I have somewhat neglected paleo in this lecture. But it will make more sense when you're talking about the individual specimens later in the semester. Basically, early paleoanthropologists expected for entirely racist reasons, that humans ought to have developed in Europe. And that they should have had big brains but otherwise look ape like. When no such ancestor was forthcoming one was manufactured. It was called Piltdown Man and consisted of a human skull with a modern orangutan jaw. It was so widely accepted that the few legitimate paleoanthropological discoveries that were made, were ignored. In the late 1950s, it was established that Piltdown man, the presumed human ancestor found in England, was a hoax, clearing the way for the development of a more reasonable view of human evolution. Australopithecines became recognized as the most likely human ancestors. Followed by homo habilis and erectus as more discoveries were made. Basically everything you will learn in this course about paleo, even if it was discovered before the 1960s, was only integrated into our modern understanding beginning in this period. Before the 1960s, people had been interested in human evolution and they have been collecting fossil evidence. But the vast majority of their interpretations had headed off in entirely unproductive directions. Forensic anthropology had been around since 1939 when Wilton Krogman wrote a handbook for the FBI on the subject. The techniques were subsequently used to identify World War II dead. The subarea was not widely recognized by anthropologists however, until 1962 with Krogman's second, well, with Krogman's book, the Human Skeleton in Forensic Scientists, in Forensic Sciences. At that point, forensic anthropologists, at that point forensic anthropology became more widely recognized as a viable applied subarea by anthropologists. In 1972, forensic anthropology was more formally recog, in 1972, forensic anthropology was more formally recognized by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. By the 21st century, physical anthropology had more or less taken on the form it has today, as I described earlier in part one of this lecture. Over the past 14 years, there have been advances in all areas of physical anthropology, largely related to constantly improving methodology and technological advancements. And new finds in the case of paleoanthropology. But, for the most part, there have been no major overhauls of the field. Using Coon's Model, we are in a period of normal science. Part three, what has politics got to do with it? My undergrad was a smallish liberal arts school with a teaching focus. Every single class I took in Anthropology had a history theory ethics component, which I thought was awful at the time. But which I now better understand. But of which, I now better understand the importance. One of the most important reasons for discussing the political and social environment in which a discipline develops, is that it can explain why certain subjects are dropped from programs of study, and others are championed. This has happened several times in biological anthropology. The two most clearly recognized examples are the issues of race and genics. The original purpose of anthropology in England, and the reason that there was a split in the English to anthropological academy. With social anthropology and Darwinian evolutionists on one side and physical anthropologists on the other, wasn't it physical anthropology was heavily oriented toward establishing the reality of race, and a hierarchy of races for the purpose of supporting colonial expansionism. Basically, it was propaganda. Social anthropology was also involved in this to a certain extent, but moved on much sooner. In order to maintain their belief in the fixity of races, which was their main area of study. Early physical anthropologists had to deny Darwinian evolution, and so isolated themselves from much of the scientific community. A series of revolutions an, a series of revolutions and world wars put a firm stop to the colonial area, the colonial era, militant nationalism and expansionism, after which time, there was no longer the same political pressure to recognize certain populations as inherently and irrevocably inferior to others. In fact, following World War II, there was a strong civil rights movement in the United States pushing for recognition of all races as equal. This influenced physical anthropology in the 1950s and 1960s to adopt a much more scientific approach to the study of humanity. First attempting to study the concept of race more systematically, and then abandoning the area of research as it became clear that there was no such thing as biological race, despite the volume of work produced on the subject before 1950. It is important to note here, that the hardcore racists we're willing to do bad science and ignore widely accepted scientific theories, in order to maintain their viewpoints. It was only under political pressure that institutionalized racism finally declined. There are in fact still recurrences of scientific justification of biological race from time to time. Notably the bell curve in the 1990s, and a troublesome inheritance which received publicity in the Times earlier this year. Which is 2014 if you're watching this from the future. These, such recurrences are rejected by biological anthropologists on the basis of their poor science, but with a, but with a fervor that stems largely from ethical, re, political, concerns. Eugenics was one of the early earliest foci of biological anthropology. From a modern perspective it was a rather confused focus concerned with racial purity and also class issues. Eugenics had a tendency to equate race with socioeconomic status, to consider race as the causal factor in socionomic, in socioeconomic position. And to consider poverty a biological failing associated with race. Basically, the got the wrong end of the stick all over the place. They were also concerned with intelligence and criminality, and a host of other features which are both culturally and biologically influenced. The advocated the sterilization of the poor, criminals and the mentally impaired as a means by which to improve the human species as a whole, as well as individual races. Eugenics was actually touted at one point as a potential applied field of biological anthropology. Several physical anthropologists were influential in the development of the Nazi party's approach to race, as racial purity was also one of their major themes. Such view were widely and publicly supported through World War II, but the population of the, but the popularity of the field declined sharply after the genocidal Nazi approach to eugenics was widely recognized. Certain scholars have attempted to revive the field with a more modern focus on genetics. But it has not taken off as Eugenics is still associated in the popular mind with the Holocaust. So is it a good thing that Biological Anthropologists by and large now reject the ideas of race and Eugenics. Do you think that worthwhile studies could still be done on these topics? This is a major ethical issue in bioanth, because there is a great deal of pressure in both in and outside the field of Biological Anthropology to let the dead lie, and just leave those issues the heck alone. But at the same time, there is a principle in science that no subject should be exempt from study. Race is still studied from time to time, because race is still in every day life a very real phenomenon, even if it is social, not biological in origin. Most people don't seem to care about the distinction even though it's very important. And as I mentioned there was a recent book published on the topic which completely misinterprets genetic data to come to the conclusion that there are biological races. About the only way that Biological Anthropologists will address the subject is to refute such claims. Otherwise we want nothing to do with race. As far as I know, no one studies genetic, no one studies Eugenics. If they do look at any of the concepts associated with the field, they avoid the word Eugenics itself, and absolutely no one, would publish any sort of study, advocating a practical application of Eugenic principles. There are good reasons, to close the study of both biological race and Eugenics aside from political pressure. Race has been shown repeatedly over the last 50 years not to exist as a biological reality in humans. It cannot be scientifically studied, because you cannot observe what does not exist. It is however, possible to study the biological effects of social stigma and marginalization associated historically and today between different socially recognized races. And this is a direction in which research has proceeded under medical anthropology and sociology. Eugenics cannot be studied scientifically either. In this case, because the goals of Eugenics are by definition opposed to objective scientific inquiry. There is no direction in natural selection aside from environmental shifts. There is no suite of traits which is objectively better than any other over the long term. Take for example, intelligence. Neanderthals had larger brains than we do, but we outcompeted them. So clearly it's not an issue of sheer quantity trumping all else. If you wanted to select for superior intelligence, how would you do it? Would you privilege logical reasoning over social intelligence? Why? Advocating Eugenics studies requires defining certain traits as superior to others, which cannot be done objectively. To make an analogy of it, we are not refusing to take on the case of biological race. We've declared it closed. Social race and Eugenics are simply not in our jurisdiction. So no, I don't think that we should still be studying biological race or Eugenics. But I do think that it's important to recognize why Biological Anthropologists have in the past, studied both of these things along with other specializations which are still acceptable today, like Paleo Anthropology and primate comparative anatomy. And it's equally important to think about why we don't study them anymore, because people didn't just up and realize that actually, there was no good scientific justification for their work. They stopped under social pressure and then later realized that biological race and Eugenics were bad science. The reason I think, the lesson I think should be taken from this and the one thing I would advise you to do regardless of your specific interest or field of study, is to constantly ask yourselves why are we doing this. And make sure that the answer is one you can make an argument to support. That is all I have for you today. That's all I have for you today. You should now be able to explain what bioanthropologists in different specializations do, in the broadest sense. And how these goals relate to the overall interests of Biological Anthropology. You should be able to explain why this class is taught from an evolutionary perspective. You should be familiar with the historical development of Biological Anthropology as an academic discipline. Again, broad strokes. And you should be able to discuss the importance of examining the motives of any scientific study. If you have any questions about this or any other lecture you can contact your TAs at [email protected] or Tune in for Office Hours as outlined in the syllabus.

Loading