Race in Anthropology
November 2, 2012 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Academics and anthropologists: What are the most interesting and important anthropological works on race published in (roughly) the past decade?

Pretend you are putting together a reader on the study of race in anthropology from 2000 until the present. What would you include in this collection?

This is an intentionally broad question because I want the largest possible pool of potential selections. The only requirements are the following:

+ Must be from the discipline of anthropology (not just tangentially related)

+ Must be academic (either from a peer-reviewed journal or academic press)

Works may be from any branch of anthropology (biological, cultural, medical, etc). Collections of works are also welcome. Let me know if you need further clarification, and thank you all in advance for your help!
posted by a.steele to Education (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My Anthro 101 course assigned Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack as the intro reading for our chapter on race.

This might be lower level than what you're looking for, but it really is the classic introductory text to race in a modern-day cultural studies context.

I also remember a lot of talk about the American Anthropological Association's Statement On Race.
posted by Sara C. at 2:20 PM on November 2, 2012

I'd say Ann Stoler (2002) Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule has been pretty fundamental for both anthropologists and historians. Stoler teaches in both departments.
posted by idlethink at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Interesting question! Large sections of anthropology spend a lot of time thinking about race (and anthropology's involvement in discussions of race) in very different ways. And most of anthropology's and allied fields' key insights about race—the ones society would probably benefit most from having out in the mainstream—are more than ten years old. Here's one set of important names and works, though:

For a start I would go have a look at the sections on race on Jason Antrosio's website Living Anthropologically. As I understand it he's a cultural anthropologist but he's committed to four-field undergraduate education and has a lot of pages where he writes up overviews of materials for undergrad courses. Here's his material tagged as race. He's not a giant of the field of race studies in anthropology or anything, but he keeps abreast of both the cultural and biological material and his website is written to be intelligible to those outside the discipline.

Here's his write-up of a 2009 special issue (paywalled) of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology called "Race reconciled: how biological anthropologist view race". He's a particular fan of Clarence Gravlee's contribution, "How race becomes biology: embodiment of social inequality".

Just this week he posted about Agustìn Fuentes's new book Race, monogamy, and other lies they told you, which popularizes a lot of recent understandings of race from anthropology. Fuentes is a primatologist who has engaged pretty closely with current work in cultural anthropology in race, science studies, and so forth, and I imagine the bibliography of his book would have some good pointers. On this front I'd also look out for the work of Jonathan Marks, although like Fuentes I'm not always sure how the mainstream of biological anthropology views his work.

In cultural anthropology, much of the most exciting recent work on race has focused on the science of genetics, genetic research, and the use of race in medicine. Here's an Annual Review piece (paywalled, sadly) by Nadia Abu El-Haj called "The genetic reinscription of race." Her bibliography points you to some important figures apart from El-Haj, including Michael Montoya, Jenny Reardon, Duana Fullwiley, Steven Epstein. (Epstein and Reardon are both sociologists, but their work is pretty close to that done by sociocultural anthropologists.)

I'm probably forgetting scads of important folks here. I would say that if we took this back into the 90s I'd cite Ann Stoler's Race and the education of desire, which brings together studies of race, sexuality, and imperialism in a way that has been incredibly influential in anthropology and in allied fields like history, women's studies, and area studies/postcolonial studies.
posted by col_pogo at 3:11 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

In the intro to physical anthropology course I teach, I use excerpts from Nina Jablonski's work on skin color, and I make heavy use of C. Loring Brace's work on race, in particular Race is a Four Letter Word. Race is only a small segment of my class, though.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:13 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The American Anthropological Association's Race Project and exhibit "Race, Are We So Different" has a pretty decent resources section including an annotated bibliography (link goes to pdf).
posted by gudrun at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

In my grad-level seminars, we read work by Clarence Gravlee, which addresses the idea that race is "just" a cultural construct. Oh I just noticed "How race becomes biology: Embodiment of social inequality" was already mentioned upthread. Anyway, that provides a good overview - peruse more of Gravlee's work here.
posted by illenion at 10:28 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Michael Taussig's My Cocaine Museum is a very powerful piece of anthropology.
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 10:58 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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