Define Race and discuss its traits and determinants

The term Race is quite common. It is used in various meanings. Some people use it for a regional group that lives in a particular place. Such as the American race, the Swedish race, etc. It can mean nation, language group, varna group, or something similar. But this meaning is misleading. Its scientific concept is different from these popular meanings.

Define Race

The Race has been defined by various scholars. Some of the main definitions are as follows:

  1. According to DN Majumdar – “If a group of individuals can be distinguished from other groups on the basis of similar physical characteristics, then no matter how scattered the members of this biological group are, it is a race.”
  2. According to A. L. Kroeber – “Race is a correct biological concept. It is a group bound by inheritance. It is related to the sub-species by birth or to the genetic carriers.”
  3. According to Besange – “Races are called large groups identified on the basis of hereditary physiological variations”.

Thus it is clear that the race is not a regional or cultural group, rather it is a group of individuals with similar physical characteristics.

Related: Define Race and discuss its traits and determinants

Traits and determinants of Race

Not all races are equal in terms of physical characteristics. There are many differences among them. Physical differences of races are divided into two parts:

  1. Definite traits
  2. Indefinite traits

Definite Traits

Definite traits are those which can be quantified and which can be expressed in the language of mathematics. The following things can be considered under this:

  1. Stature – The first definitive feature of the race’s distinction is stature because stature can be easily measured, but the environment affects the stature of a man. The stature is also the backbone of racial differences as a result of environmental influences. Paul Topinard has divided stature into four classes. According to him, the height which is more than 5 feet 7 inches is taller, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches is considered to be shorter in height and less than the average. Thus, race is determined by stature.
  2. Cephalic index and cranial index – It has an important place in the definite physical characteristics of human beings. The skull is divided into three parts
    • Doliche-cephalic
    • Meso-cephalic
    • Rachy-cephalic

This division has been done on the basis of the Cephalic index of the race. There is a difference between the Cephalic index and cranial index. The skull circumcision of the living persons is called the Cephalic index and the skull circumcision of the dead persons is called the cranial index. There is a definite rule to differentiate these two. The width of the skull is divided by the length and then multiplied by 100 to remove the cephalic index or the cranial index. On this basis, the reciprocal ratio of length-width is derived. Its formula is:

(Head width / head length) x 100 = cephalic index or cranial index

In this way, on the basis of the Cephalic index, the race is decided by dividing the skulls into three parts.

  • Long skull: Species whose Cephalic indexes are less than 71 are included in the long skull. People of such skulls are found in North Africa.
  • Medium skull: Additionally, some races have medium skulls. The medium skull refers to the head whose Cephalic index is between 57 and 80. People of this type of skull are found in North-Western Europe. People living in places like Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, etc. belong to the middle skull.
  • Wide skull: If the Cephalic index of a species is more than 80, it is said to be of a wide skull. All species of Mongolian sections are usually of the wide skull. The people of the Nordic race are also considered to have wide skulls, but not all people of the Nordic race have wide skulls.
  1. The density of the skull – One of the bases of determining the race is also the density of the skull. The density of each person’s skull varies from one to another. Races are separated from each other on the basis of these differences. This method is used after the death of a human being. Density is detected by filling sand etc. in empty skulls. From this point of view, the Caucasian species have the highest density of skulls and the Negro species have the lowest density of skulls. Speciesists say that people with higher density skulls are more intelligent than those with lower density skulls. But this assumption has been proved wrong by extracting the density of the skulls of the Eskimos. The skull density of these people is higher than that of Caucasian species but Caucasians are more intelligent than Eskimo people.
  1. Nasal index – The race is also determined by the Nasal index. To achieve this, the width of the Nasal is multiplied by 100 and divided by the length of the Nasal. The formula to find the Nasal index is as follows:

(Width of nasal / length of nasal) x 100 = Nasal index

Nasal is divided into three parts:

  1. Leptorrhine
  2. Mesorrhine
  3. Pratlyrrhine

The nose of each race is different from each other. As the people of the Caucasian race have a long nose, while the people of the nineteenth race have a wide nose. A comparative study of the nose reveals the race. But according to age, there is a difference in the length and width of the nostril. Therefore, in the two groups which are studied in comparative studies, it is necessary to have the same age of the people of both groups.

  1. Length of arms and legs – race variation is also manifested by the length of arms and legs. It measures the length of a man’s shoulder to elbow and elbow to hands. This length varies in each race. People of many tribes have longer arm lengths than legs. Whereas in modern races, the length of the hands is less than the legs.
  2. Blood group – Anthropologists test blood to see the variety of races. But many scholars have raised objections in this regard. The reason for this is that the blood of different individuals under the same race does not match each other. Demonstrating race differences based on blood was started by Karl Landsteiner. Based on the test, Ledsteiner divided human blood into three parts and named it A, B, and O. After this Sterli and Decostello discovered a fourth type of blood and named it AB. Each race is dominated by one of these blood groups. Anthropologists say that the ‘B’ blood group is predominant in Asia and the ‘A’ blood group in Europe.

Indefinite Traits

The variation of race is also shown on the basis of uncertain physical symptoms. Under this, the following things are considered.

  1. Pigmentation – Depending on the color of the skin, the variation of the race is indicated. Only by observing the color of the skin the difference between the white and black races can be determined. A negro and an American can be easily identified on this basis. On the basis of color, the skin is of three types:
    • White – Caucasian race
    • Yellow – Mongoloid race
    • Black – Negroid race

Color is not considered to be the final element of race determination. Human skin is particularly dependent on climate and geographical conditions.

  1. Color of eyes – This method of race determination is not equally applicable in all races. This is particularly helpful in the classification of people of the Caucasian race only. In the Caucasian race, the color of the star of the eye is brown, green, or blue. In the rest of the race, black color is found in the star of the eye. This symptom is not particularly important from the point of view of the race. Its area is also limited. It is used only on the living person.
  2. Hair – Hair has an important place in race determination. There is less difference in external effects. Therefore, it is easy to use over living persons. It is divided into three parts – straight hair, frizz, and woolly hair, depending on the texture of the hair. These types of hair are helpful in determining race. Negroid race hair is woolly, Mongoloid race hair is straight and Australian race hair is curly. Apart from this, there is also a difference in the color of hair. Some have black hair and some have brown and red hair.
  3. Lips – The texture of lips is different for each race. The lips of some races are thick and are immersed inward. Conversely, some race lips are thin and remain to lean outward. Thick and protruding lips found in the negro race. In the rest of the race, the lips are often thin and lean towards the inside.

Thus, on the basis of definite and indefinite traits, one race is separated from the other race. But there are many difficulties in determining race based on these traits. The most significant difficulty is that the traits which we consider to be differentiators of race are found in most of the races. People of many classes meet under the same race. Similarly, blood group differences are also seen under the same race. In a person, group ‘A’ predominates, while in some group ‘B’.

More: Anthropology- Scope, Aim, Branches and Research Method in Anthropology

Leave a Comment