Ethnicity and race

The concepts of ethnicity and race have been possibly one of the most discussed in history, many times loaded with a scientificity steeped in prejudices. Here are ethnic and racial differences: concepts, ideas, and examples. 

DefinitionIt accounts for a group of people (in the case of human beings) with an identical biological and genetic foundation, irretrievably separating it from the rest.It refers to a conglomeration of people who share language, religion, history, cultures, memory, traditions and even physical aspects in some cases.
ExamplesNegroid or CaucasianArabs, Maori, Jews, Persians, Quechas, among others.

An ethnic group , derived from the Greek ethnos which means population, refers to a group of people with a common origin. It is based on a certain external aspect, but above all on customs, traditions, language, religion and a historical memory. On the other hand, race is the form of division of some species on the basis of phenotypic traits, that is, we are talking about characteristics that have a genetic basis.

Definition of race

Race accounts for a social division that is supported by the biological or genetic . That is, in the world of human beings it has been used as a clear, perennial and unshakable schism between people. If one spoke of race, especially in ancient times, it served to make a difference, often pejorative, with others. A schism that could not be settled.

Both in the world of botany and fauna, the concept of race has been losing its value, having in the second case a more important foundation for zootechnics, with crossing techniques and selection of animals.

And in man? The idea of ​​race is practically unfounded . In the first place, by modern anthropologies, which were deconstructing how such a concept could imply the subjugation of entire civilizations (the white race over the rest is the best example); and also by the development of genetics, causing external divisions to explode, since the same complexity that humans observe in this regard does not allow such categories to be made.

And although there is no total agreement, many specialists emphasize that all humanity starts from a gene pool, however broad it may be. In any case, we should speak of the human race, encompassing all people.

The conclusion is that whether the concept of race is upheld or not, the struggle lies in the face of any mechanism that makes a difference, more than anything physical and observable, a basis for subduing a neighbor. Negroid was a type of race formerly, but what is impossible to accept is the denigrating burden that those who were part of it possessed.

Breed characteristics and examples

The characteristics of the race were based on attributes of the people or phenotypic traits. They are transmitted genetically and therefore would last long enough. We talk about skin color, hair type, face shape, as those most obvious features.

So if we talk about race we have examples: Negroid, Caucasian, Mongoloid, Australoid and Capoid, to give the most outstanding ones. We repeat: for many this model of division is obsolete.

Definition of ethnicity

The concept of ethnicity is the one that has taken place of that of race in recent times. We are talking about human groups with common origins referring to language, religion, myths, stories, solidarity, customs or, ultimately, what is known as culture, as a huge network of meanings .

If we are based on his concept, ethnicity refers to a group of people with a common identity, to a total being a tribe or a nation. Of course, this does not mean that they may have, precisely because of this socio-cultural bond, physical similarities.

Ethnicity, however, must be understood from a dynamic aspect. Cultural identities are not watertight compartments, perfectly divided, ready to be observed in a museum. In reality there is movement, syncretisms, juxtapositions, overlaps, because the human life requires it.

Then there may be processes of union in the ethnic group, which make its uniqueness that gives it certain characteristics; but also modification and enrichment with the cultural environment. Is a pre-Columbian culture the same before the arrival of the Spanish as after? The answer is no, which allows us to see the fluidity of a concept that plays between identity and difference.

Features and examples

In any case, at least in its definition, ethnicity has certain characteristics. It is based on the common origin of a group of people; it can be translated into behaviors, habits, traditions, religion and culture; their shared bond serves as the foundation of a cultural identity; and they are dynamic.

We can speak of Nahualt, Mayan, Aymara, Quechua, Berber, Samoan, Turkic, Arab, Persian, Maori and even Jews (no matter how much they have been associated with a state since the 20th century). Examples can be many more.

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