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Claims of Descent : Race and Science in Contemporary South Africa

Title data

Schramm, Katharina:
Claims of Descent : Race and Science in Contemporary South Africa.
Wien; Österreich , 2014 . - (Vienna Working Papers in Ethnography ; 3 )

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

This paper is concerned with the question of how to ethnographically account for race as a complex knowledge formation and political reality. I focus on South Africa which occupies a special place in global scientific debates on race and human origins – historically as well as presently. From the early twentieth century onwards, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology and genetics were preoccupied with the study of indigenous populations in order to draw general conclusions on human evolution and biological differences (and hierarchies) between groups. These genealogies of knowledge resonate in various ways in contemporary research. At the same time, the bureaucratic and ‘culturally defined race classification of apartheid heavily relied on common-sense notions of race and this has contributed to their ongoing persistence. While not fully congruent with each other, these ‘cultural’ and ‘biological’classification practices are nevertheless closely intertwined. In the post-apartheid society it is therefore not enough to say that race is socially constructed or a mere biological fiction in order to subvert its ongoing political and epistemological power. I argue that we need to rather problematize race itself as a polyvalent phenomenon. In order to do so, I discuss the relationship between epistemic objects (human remains, casts and DNA), classificatory violence and the politics of memory by which different actors perform race, while articulating their claims of descent and political subjectivities in contemporary South Africa.

Further data

Item Type: Working paper, discussion paper
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Lehrstuhl Ethnologie > Lehrstuhl Ethnologie - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Katharina Schramm
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Lehrstuhl Ethnologie
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences
Date Deposited: 23 May 2018 06:38
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 05:40
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/44269