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Race UnmaskedBiology and Race in the Twentieth Century$
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Michael Yudell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168748

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168748.001.0001

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Naturalizing Racism

Naturalizing Racism

The Controversy Over Sociobiology

Chapter:
(p.179) 10 Naturalizing Racism
Source:
Race Unmasked
Author(s):

Michael Yudell

J. Craig Venter

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231168748.003.0011

This chapter deals with the controversies surrounding the emergence of sociobiology, which began with Edward Osborne Wilson's publication of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Wilson's proposition states that a biological theory of behavior should inform the work of the social sciences and humanities. It is sociobiology's concern with the so-called human universals (e.g. xenophobia, ethnocentrism) that is especially significant in the context of the race concept and its implications for understanding racism. The chapter also discusses how sociobiologists got involved in debates seeking biological explanations for xenophobia and ethnocentrism; such events then caused a considerable rise in genetic explanations for complex human social behaviors. Despite several detractors, notably Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould, and Ruth Hubbard, Wilson maintained that sociobiology provides a framework to naturalize racism by proposing a genetic rationale for it.

Keywords:   sociobiology, Edward Osborne Wilson, sociobiology, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould, Ruth Hubbard

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