Anthropological Debates on Race, Nature, and Culture

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AnthropologicalDebates on Race, Nature, and Culture

  1. Scientific Objectivity

Scientificobjectivity entails the process which anthropologists employ whileseeking the truth and facts, rather than being controlled by personalbiases. The anthropologists must steer away from questions whichfocus on predetermined outcomes while studying human culture indifferent societies. The anthropologist must organize themselves toobserve chance occurrences in the field and unplanned randomhappenings during the field study (MacClancy, 10). It is then thatone can claim the element of scientific objectivity in investigatingcultures across various races.

  1. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Tuskegeesyphilis experiment is an evident case of racial prejudice in whichAfrican-Americans were lured to participate in the clinicalinvestigation of the natural progression of syphilis. There isevidence that all those infected with syphilis in this study did notreceive the treatment that they were promised or assured. Similarly,nobody bothered to explain to them the negative outcomes of thesurvey. It is a classic example of disregard of some races(Bourgois1).

  1. Qualitative Research

Qualitativeresearch is the kind of study with the primary objective ofdescribing a situation or a phenomenon. The study gives an account ofcertain events. It involves the use of ordinal or nominal scale tomeasure variables. For instance, an investigation on high infantmortality rate among African-American women living in disadvantagedconditions in the United States of America. Poverty and lack ofeducation are two variables which account for the deaths of infantsamong black American women (Carpenter, 3).

  1. Eugenics

Eugenicsentails a political ideology which put an emphasis on selectionbreeding in human races. The proponents of eugenic argue that someraces have better genes than others. There is the lack of sufficientevidence to show that some races have better genes than others(Pierpoint,85). Furthermore, it is nature that generates partly the desiredtraits in human beings.

  1. Franz Boas

FranzBoas is considered as the father of the modern American anthropology.Boas opposed the ideas of scientific racism. Proponents of scientificracism assert that race is a biological product and that humanbehavior can best be explained by biological characteristics. Boasfurther challenged racial anthropologists when he examined skeletonsof people from different races. He concluded that the cranial shapesof human beings in all races are not stable(Pierpoint51). There is no relationship between the shape of the head and thestability of the human traits.

  1. Nature versus Nurture

Natureversus nurture debate is interesting. This is because humandevelopment is a product of nature and nurture. Nature concerns withthe environmental conditions, while nurture refers to the role thatgenetics and inheritance play in shaping the traits of a person. Bothnature and nurture have a profound effect on the behaviors of humanbeings in all the races(Pierpoint,56).

  1. Culture

Cultureencompasses the general way of life of people. Individuals who are atdifferent levels of the social ladder have a distinct culture.Likewise, culture varies from race to race, and different societieshave a diverse culture. Culture involves a complex set of beliefs,knowledge, artifacts, and information that are shared by people inthe society. The United States society for example, has a culturethat advocates for free speech and freedom of association.

  1. Race

Racerefers to the differentiation of human beings into categories basedon genetic features, physical appearance, or their origin regardingancestry. The United States society has several classifications ofpeople based on physical attributes for example, African Americans,Native Americans, and White Americans.

  1. “Studying Up”

“Studyingup” is an investigation of various social structures in thesociety, for instance, the lower, middle, and the upper social ordersin any culture with a focus on power distribution(Nader,1). The upper social order has people who control the resources andopportunities in the society for example, wealth, leadership,infrastructure, and security.

  1. Meritocracy

Meritocracyis the notion that some people adopt which make them feel that theyare brilliant, unchallenged, highly educated, and are hard workingcompared to the rest of the people in the society (Ho, 102). Theleadership of a country is held by individuals who control thepolitical and economic systems. The individuals have high levels ofauthority because they have sufficient wealth, education, andprofessional experience.

  1. Cultural Capital

Culturalcapital entails practices which focus on exploiting a section of thesociety so as to accumulate massive wealth and at the same time paylittle regard to morality (Bourgois1). Cultural capital also involvessocial assets possessed by an individual for example, intellectlevel and fashion style. The assets enhance social mobility in asociety that is stratified.


Jeremy,MacClancy. ExoticNo More.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

Karen,Ho. “The Pups of Wall Street.” DemocracyJournal,2014. Print.

Laura,Nader. “Up the Anthropologist: Perspectives Gained From StudyingUp.” ERIC,1972. Print.

Philippe,Bourgois. “GoinLegit”: Disrespect and Resistance at Work.Cambrige: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.

ZoëCarpenter. “What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?” TheNation,February 15, 2017. Print.

Claudia,Pierpont. “The Measure of America.” TheNew Yorker,March 8, 2004. Print.