The Caucasian race (also Caucasoidor Europid) is an outdated grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological taxon which, depending on which of the historical race classifications is used, has usually included ancient and modern populations from all or parts of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.
First introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, [ page needed ] the term denoted one of three purported major races of humankind (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). In biological anthropology, Caucasoid has been used as an umbrella term for phenotypically similar groups from these different regions, with a focus on skeletal anatomy, and especially cranial morphology, without regard to skin tone. Ancient and modern "Caucasoid" populations were thus not exclusively "white", but ranged in complexion from white-skinned to dark brown.
Since the second half of the 20th century, physical anthropologists have moved away from a typological understanding of human biological diversity towards a genomic and population-based perspective, and have tended to understand race as a social classification of humans based on phenotype and ancestry as well as cultural factors, as the concept is also understood in the social sciences.In the United States, the root term Caucasian has also often been used as a synonym for white or of European, Middle Eastern, or North African ancestry. Its usage in American English has been criticized.
In the eighteenth century, the prevalent view amongst European scholars was that the human species had its origin in the region of the Caucasus Mountains.This view was based upon the Caucasus being the location for the purported landing point of Noah's Ark – from whom the Bible states that humanity is descended – and the location for the suffering of Prometheus, who in Hesiod's myth had crafted humankind from clay.
In addition, the most beautiful humans were reputed to be the stereotypical "Circassian beauties" and the Georgian people; both Georgia and Circassia are in the Caucasus region.The "Circassian beauty" stereotype had its roots in the Middle Ages, whilst the reputation for the attractiveness of the Georgian people was developed by early modern travellers to the region such as Jean Chardin.
The term Caucasian as a racial category was first introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History – notably Christoph Meiners in 1785 and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1795 [ page needed ] – it had originally referred in a narrow sense to the native inhabitants of the Caucasus region.
In his The Outline of History of Mankind (1785), the German philosopher Christoph Meiners first used the concept of a "Caucasian" (Kaukasisch) race in its wider racial sense. [ page needed ] Meiners' term was given wider circulation in the 1790s by many people. Meiners imagined that the Caucasian race encompassed all of the ancient and most of the modern native populations of Europe, the aboriginal inhabitants of West Asia (including the Phoenicians, Hebrews and Arabs), the autochthones of Northern Africa (Berbers, Egyptians, Abyssinians and neighboring groups), the Indians, and the ancient Guanches.
It was Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a colleague of Meiners', who later came to be considered one of the founders of the discipline of anthropology, who gave the term a wider audience, by grounding it in the new methods of craniometry and Linnean taxonomy.Blumenbach did not credit Meiners with his taxonomy, although his justification clearly points to Meiners' aesthetic viewpoint of Caucasus origins. In contrast to Meiners, however, Blumenbach was a monogenist – he considered all humans to have a shared origin and to be a single species. Blumenbach, like Meiners, did rank his Caucasian grouping higher than other groups in terms of mental faculties or potential for achievement despite pointing out that the transition from one race to another is so gradual that the distinctions between the races presented by him are "very arbitrary".
Alongside the anthropologist Georges Cuvier, Blumenbach classified the Caucasian race by cranial measurements and bone morphology in addition to skin pigmentation. [ citation needed ] This usage later grew into the widely used color terminology for race, contrasting with the terms Negroid, Mongoloid, and Australoid.Following Meiners, Blumenbach described the Caucasian race as consisting of the native inhabitants of Europe, West Asia, the Indian peninsula, and North Africa.
There was never any consensus among the proponents of the concept the existence of a "Caucasoid race" with regard to how it would be delineated from other proposed groups such as the proposed Mongoloid race. Carleton S. Coon (1939) included the populations native to all of Central and Northern Asia, including the Ainu people, under the Caucasoid label. However, many scientists maintained the racial categorizations of color established by Meiners' and Blumenbach's works, along with many other early steps of anthropology, well into the late 19th and mid-to-late 20th centuries, increasingly used to justify political policies, such as segregation and immigration restrictions, and other opinions based in prejudice. For example, Thomas Henry Huxley (1870) classified all populations of Asian nations as Mongoloid. Lothrop Stoddard (1920) in turn classified as "brown" most of the populations of the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Central Asia and South Asia. He counted as "white" only European peoples and their descendants, as well as a few populations in areas adjacent to or opposite southern Europe, in parts of Anatolia and parts of the Rif and Atlas mountains.
In 1939 Coon argued that the Caucasian race had originated through admixture between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens of the "Mediterranean type" which he considered to be distinct from Caucasians, rather than a subtype of it as others had done.While Blumenbach had erroneously thought that light skin color was ancestral to all humans and the dark skin of southern populations was due to sun, Coon thought that Caucasians had lost their original pigmentation as they moved North. Coon used the term "Caucasoid" and "White race" synonymously.
In 1962, Coon published The Origin of Races, wherein he proposed a polygenist view, that human races had evolved separately from local varieties of Homo erectus. Dividing humans into five main races, and argued that each evolved in parallel but at different rates, so that some races had reached higher levels of evolution than others.He argued that the Caucasoid race had evolved 200,000 years prior to the "Congoid race", and hence represented a higher evolutionary stage.
Coon argued that Caucasoid traits emerged prior to the Cro-Magnons, and were present in the Skhul and Qafzeh hominids.However, these fossils and the Predmost specimen were held to be Neanderthaloid derivatives because they possessed short cervical vertebrae, lower and narrower pelves, and had some Neanderthal skull traits. Coon further asserted that the Caucasoid race was of dual origin, consisting of early dolichocephalic (e.g. Galley Hill, Combe-Capelle, Téviec) and Neolithic Mediterranean Homo sapiens (e.g. Muge, Long Barrow, Corded), as well as Neanderthal-influenced brachycephalic Homo sapiens dating to the Mesolithic and Neolithic (e.g. Afalou, Hvellinge, Fjelkinge).
After discussing various criteria used in biology to define subspecies or races, Alan R. Templeton concludes in 2016: "[T]he answer to the question whether races exist in humans is clear and unambiguous: no." 360:
Drawing from Petrus Camper's theory of facial angle, Blumenbach and Cuvier classified races, through their skull collections based on their cranial features and anthropometric measurements. Caucasoid traits were recognised as: thin nasal aperture ("nose narrow"), a small mouth, facial angle of 100°–90°, and orthognathism, exemplified by what Blumenbach saw in most ancient Greek crania and statues.Later anthropologists of the 19th and early 20th century such as Pritchard, Pickering, Broca, Topinard, Morton, Peschel, Seligman, Bean, Ripley, Haddon and Dixon came to recognize other Caucasoid morphological features, such as prominent supraorbital ridges and a sharp nasal sill. Many anthropologists in the 20th century used the term "Caucasoid" in their literature, such as Boyd, Gates, Coon, Cole, Brues and Krantz replacing the earlier term "Caucasian" as it had fallen out of usage.
Caucasoids have small teeth,with the maxillary lateral incisors often shrunken in size or replaced with peg laterals. According to George W. Gill and other modern forensic anthropologists, physical traits of Caucasoid crania can be distinguished from those of the people from Mongoloid and Negroid racial groups based on the shapes of specific diagnostic anatomical features. They assert that they can identify a Caucasoid skull with an accuracy of up to 95%. However, Alan H. Goodman cautions that this precision estimate is often based on methodologies using subsets of samples. He also argues that scientists have a professional and ethical duty to avoid such biological analyses since they could potentially have sociopolitical effects.
Variation in craniofacial form between humans has been found to be largely due to differing patterns of biological inheritance. Modern cross-analysis of osteological variables and genome-wide SNPs has identified specific genes, which control this craniofacial development. Of these genes, DCHS2, RUNX2, GLI3, PAX1 and PAX3 were found to determine nasal morphology, whereas EDAR impacts chin protrusion and facial hair, both of which have been recently selected in Caucasians
| Caucasoid :|
| Mongoloid :|
In the 19th century Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885–1890), Caucasoid was one of the three great races of humankind, alongside Mongoloid and Negroid. The taxon was taken to consist of a number of subtypes. The Caucasoid peoples were usually divided into three groups on ethnolinguistic grounds, termed Aryan (Indo-European), Semitic (Semitic languages), and Hamitic (Hamitic languages i.e. Berber-Cushitic-Egyptian).
19th century classifications of the peoples of India were initially uncertain if the Dravidians and the Sinahalese were Caucasoid or a separate Dravida race, but by and in the 20th century, anthropologists predominantly declared Dravidians to be Caucasoid.
Historically, the racial classification of the Turkic peoples was sometimes given as "Turanid". Turanid racial type or "minor race", subtype of the Europid (Caucasian) race with Mongoloid admixtures, situated at the boundary of the distribution of the Mongoloid and Europid "great races".
There was no universal consensus of the validity of the "Caucasoid" grouping within those who attempted to categorize human variation. Thomas Henry Huxley in 1870 wrote that the "absurd denomination of 'Caucasian'" was in fact a conflation of his Xanthochroi (Nordic) and Melanochroi (Mediterranean) types.
The postulated subraces vary depending on the author, including but not limited to Mediterranean, Atlantid, Nordic, East Baltic, Alpine, Dinaric, Turanid, Armenoid, Iranid, Indid, Arabid, and Hamitic.
H. G. Wells argued that across Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia, a Caucasian physical stock existed. He divided this racial element into two main groups: a shorter and darker Mediterranean or Iberian race and a taller and lighter Nordic race. Wells asserted that Semitic and Hamitic populations were mainly of Mediterranean type, and Aryan populations were originally of Nordic type. He regarded the Basques as descendants of early Mediterranean peoples, who inhabited western Europe before the arrival of Aryan Celts from the direction of central Europe.
The "Northcaucasian race" is a sub-race proposed by Carleton S. Coon (1930).It comprises the native populations of the North Caucasus, the Balkars, Karachays and Vainakh (Chechens and Ingushs).
Besides its use in anthropology and related fields, the term "Caucasian" has often been used in the United States in a different, social context to describe a group commonly called "white people"."White" also appears as a self-reporting entry in the U.S. Census. Naturalization as a United States citizen was restricted to "free white persons" by the Naturalization Act of 1790, and later extended to other resident populations by the Naturalization Act of 1870, Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. The Supreme Court in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) decided that Asian Indians were ineligible for citizenship because, though deemed "Caucasian" anthropologically, they were not white like European descendants since most laypeople did not consider them to be "white" people. This represented a change from the Supreme Court's earlier opinion in Ozawa v. United States , in which it had expressly approved of two lower court cases holding "high caste Hindus" to be "free white persons" within the meaning of the naturalization act. Government lawyers later recognized that the Supreme Court had "withdrawn" this approval in Thind. In 1946, the U.S. Congress passed a new law establishing a small immigration quota for Indians, which also permitted them to become citizens. Major changes to immigration law, however, only later came in 1965, when many earlier racial restrictions on immigration were lifted. This resulted in confusion about whether American Hispanics are included as "white", as the term Hispanic originally applied to Spanish heritage but has since expanded to include all people with origins in Spanish speaking countries. In other countries, the term Hispanic is not nearly as associated with race, but with the Spanish language and cultural affiliation.
The United States National Library of Medicine often used the term "Caucasian" as a race in the past. However, it later discontinued such usage in favor of the more narrow geographical term European, which traditionally only applied to a subset of Caucasoids.
Carleton Stevens Coon was an American anthropologist. A Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard University, he was president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Coon's theories on race were widely disputed in his lifetime and are considered pseudoscientific in modern anthropology.
Australo-Melanesians is an outdated historical grouping of various people indigenous to Melanesia and Australia. Groups that were controversially included are found in parts of Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was a German physician, naturalist, physiologist, and anthropologist. He is considered to be a main founder of zoology and anthropology as comparative, scientific disciplines. He was also important as a race theorist. Although he was once viewed as a proponent of scientific racism, he is now considered an early pioneer in what is now called anti-racism.
The concept of race as a rough division of anatomically modern humans has a long and complicated history. The word race itself is modern and was used in the sense of "nation, ethnic group" during the 16th to 19th centuries and acquired its modern meaning in the field of physical anthropology only from the mid-19th century. With the rise of modern genetics, the concept of distinct human races in a biological sense has become obsolete. In 2019, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists stated: "The belief in “races” as natural aspects of human biology, and the structures of inequality (racism) that emerge from such beliefs, are among the most damaging elements in the human experience both today and in the past."
Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence exists to support or justify racism, racial inferiority, or racial superiority. Historically, scientific racism received credence throughout the scientific community, but it is no longer considered scientific. Dividing humankind into biologically distinct groups is sometimes called racialism or race realism by its proponents. Modern scientific consensus rejects this view as being irreconcilable with modern genetic research.
The Nordic race is one of the putative sub-races into which some late-19th to mid-20th century anthropologists divided the Caucasian race. People of the Nordic type are mostly found in Northwestern Europe and Northern Europe, particularly among populations such as Anglos, Germanic peoples, Balts, Baltic Finns, Northern French, and certain Celts and Slavs. The physical traits of the Nordics were described as light eyes, light skin, tall stature, and dolichocephalic skull; the psychological traits as truthful, equitable, competitive, naive, reserved, and individualistic. Other supposed "Caucasian sub-races" were the Alpine race, Dinaric race, Iranid race, East Baltic race, and the Mediterranean race. In the early 20th century, beliefs that the Nordic race constituted the superior branch of the Caucasian race gave rise to the ideology of Nordicism.
The Mediterranean race was a historical race concept that was a sub-race of the Caucasian race as categorised by anthropologists in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. According to various definitions, it was said to be prevalent in the Mediterranean Basin and areas near the Mediterranean, especially in Southern Europe, North Africa, most of Western Asia, the Middle East or Near East; western Central Asia, parts of South Asia, and parts of the Horn of Africa. To a lesser extent, certain populations of people in Ireland, western parts of Great Britain and Southern Germany, despite living far from the Mediterranean, were deemed as potentially having some minority Mediterranean elements in their population, such as Bavaria, Wales and Cornwall.
In the discredited racial anthropology of the early 20th century, the Armenoid type was a subtype of the Caucasian race. According to anthropologist Carleton Coon, the countries of the northern part of Western Asia, namely Anatolia, the Caucasus, Iraq, Iran, and the Levant, were considered the center of distribution of the Armenoid race.
Identifying human races in terms of skin color, at least as one among several physiological characteristics, has been common since antiquity. Via rabbinical literature, the division is received in early modern scholarship, mostly in four to five categories. It was long recognized that the number of categories is arbitrary and subjective. François Bernier (1684) doubted the validity of using skin color as a racial characteristic, and Charles Darwin emphasized the gradual differences between categories.
Typology in anthropology is the categorization of the human species by races, based solely on traits that are readily observable from a distance such as head shape, skin color, hair form, body build, and stature. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, anthropologists used a typological model to divide people from different ethnic regions into races,.
Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective is a book by Canadian psychologist and author J. Philippe Rushton. Rushton was a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario for many years, and the head of the controversial Pioneer Fund. The first unabridged edition of the book came out in 1995, and the third, latest unabridged edition came out in 2000; abridged versions were also distributed.
The concept of a Malay race was originally proposed by the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), and classified as a brown race. Malay is a loose term used in the late 19th century and early 20th century to describe the Austronesian peoples or to categorize Austronesian speakers into a race.
Valery Pavlovich Alekseyev was a Russian anthropologist, director of the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow (1987–1991) and member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, exceptionally without having been a member of the Communist Party.
Various attempts have been made, under the British Raj and since, to classify the population of India according to a racial typology. After independence, in pursuance of the government's policy to discourage distinctions between communities based on race, the 1951 Census of India did away with racial classifications. Today, the national Census of independent India does not recognize any racial groups in India.
Mongoloid is an outdated historical grouping of various people indigenous to East Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, North Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas.
Asian people or Asiatic people are people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.
The Turanid race was a sub-race of the greater Caucasian race. In racial anthropology, the type was traditionally held to be most common among the populations native to Central Asia. The name is taken from the phylum of Turanian languages, which are the combination of the Uralic and Altaic families, hence also referred to as the term Ural–Altaic race.
Negroid is an outdated historical grouping of various people indigenous to Africa south of the area which stretched from the southern Sahara desert in the west to the African Great Lakes in the southeast, but also to isolated parts of South and Southeast Asia (Negritos).
The history of anthropometry includes the use of as an early tool of anthropology, use for identification, use for the purposes of understanding human physical variation in paleoanthropology and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits. At various points in history, certain anthropometrics have been cited by advocates of discrimination and eugenics often as part of novel or based upon pseudoscience.
The Göttingen school of history was a group of historians associated with a particular style of historiography located at the University of Göttingen in the late 18th century. This group of historians played an important role in creating a "scientific" basis for historical research, and were also responsible for coining two fundamental groups of terminologies in scientific racism:
This third racial zone stretches from Spain across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco, and thence along the southern Mediterranean shores into Arabia, East Africa, Mesopotamia, and the Persian highlands; and across Afghanistan into India [...] The Mediterranean racial zone stretches unbroken from Spain across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco, and thence eastward to India [...] A branch of it extends far southward on both sides of the Red Sea into southern Arabia, the Ethiopian highlands, and the Horn of Africa.
Late Capsians from North Africa are clearly Caucasoid and, more specifically, almost entirely Mediterranean.
... the five human races identified by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach – Negroes, American Indians, Malaysians, Mongolians, and Caucasians. He chose to rely on Blumenbach, leader of the Göttingen school of comparative anatomy
For it was at Gottingen in this period that the outlines of a system of classification were laid down in a manner that still shapes the way in which we attempt to comprehend the different varieties of humankind – including usage of such terms as 'Caucasian'.
Here, Blumenbach placed the white European at the apex of the human family; he even gave the European a new name – i.e., Caucasian. This relationship also inspired the academic labors of Karl Otfried Muller, C. Meiners and K. A. Heumann, the more important thinkers at Gottingen for our project. (This list is not intended to be exhaustive.)
It is in the context of the shift to the human as both subject and object that Foucault has placed the 'invention' of the human sciences, and it is also in this context that the various human histories as conceived and taught at Gottingen – from the theories of race proposed by Christoph Meiners and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (who would coin the word 'Caucasian' in the 1790s) to new theories of history as interpreted by Johann Christoph Gatterer and August Ludwig von Schlozer to a new art history as conceived by Fiorillo – can be considered.
Though discredited as an anthropological term and not recommended in most editorial guidelines, it is still heard and used, for example, as a category on forms asking for ethnic identification. It is also still used for police blotters (the abbreviated Cauc may be heard among police) and appears elsewhere as a euphemism. Its synonym, Caucasoid, also once used in anthropology but now dated and considered pejorative, is disappearing.
Yet there is one striking exception in our modem racial vocabulary: the term 'Caucasian'. Despite being a remnant of a discredited theory of racial classification, the term has persisted into the twenty-first century, within as well as outside of the educational community. It is high time we got rid of the word Caucasian. Some might protest that it is 'only a label'. But language is one of the most systematic, subtle, and significant vehicles for transmitting racial ideology. Terms that describe imagined groups, such as Caucasian, encapsulate those beliefs. Every time we use them and uncritically expose students to them, we are reinforcing rather than dismantling the old racialized worldview. Using the word Caucasian invokes scientific racism, the false idea that races are naturally occurring, biologically ranked subdivisions of the human species and that Caucasians are the superior race. Beyond this, the label Caucasian can even convey messages about which groups have culture and are entitled to recognition as Americans.
AS a racial classification, the term Caucasian has many flaws, dating as it does from a time when the study of race was based on skull measurements and travel diaries ... Its equivalents from that era are obsolete – nobody refers to Asians as 'Mongolian' or blacks as 'Negroid'. ... There is no legal reason to use it. It rarely appears in federal statutes, and the Census Bureau has never put a checkbox by the word Caucasian. (White is an option.) ... The Supreme Court, which can be more colloquial, has used the term in only 64 cases, including a pair from the 1920s that reveal its limitations ... In 1889, the editors of the original Oxford English Dictionary noted that the term Caucasian had been 'practically discarded'. But they spoke too soon. Blumenbach's authority had given the word a pseudoscientific sheen that preserved its appeal. Even now, the word gives discussions of race a weird technocratic gravitas, as when the police insist that you step out of your 'vehicle' instead of your car ... Susan Glisson, who as the executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Miss., regularly witnesses Southerners sorting through their racial vocabulary, said she rarely hears 'Caucasian'. 'Most of the folks who work in this field know that it's a completely ridiculous term to assign to whites,' she said. 'I think it's a term of last resort for people who are really uncomfortable talking about race. They use the term that's going to make them be as distant from it as possible.'
Alle diese Verschiedenheiten fließen aber durch so mancherley Abstufungen und Uebergänge so unvermerkt zusammen, daß sich keine andre, als sehr willkürliche Grenzen zwischen ihnen festsetzen lassen.
The MeSH term Racial Stocks and its four children (Australoid Race, Caucasoid Race, Mongoloid Race, and Negroid Race) have been deleted from MeSH in 2004. A new heading, Continental Population Groups, has been created with new identification that emphasize geography.