Monday, 17 July 2006

Mapping Human History

As background for my presentation on DNA and genealogy coming up in September at the BIFHSGO Annual Conference I borrowed a copy of Steve Olson's 2002 book Mapping Human History from the Library. I'm only a little way into the book but the end of the first chapter sets the tone ".... human's haven't changed much over the past 150,000 years. And that's exactly the conclusion geneticists have been drawing from our DNA." It a repudiation of race, in much the same way that Gene Roddenberry did in the episode of the original Star Trek series depicted in the image. Olson's argument seems to be that race is a social construct without physical basis, and that there is as much variation within racial groups as between them. This is debated in the reviews posted at . I'll reserve comment on how Olson develops his case until I've read further, and then perhaps looked at a book with a counter view like Race: The Reality of Human Differences by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele.

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