Caucasian race

Caucasian race

Overview

The term Caucasian race (also Caucasoid, Europid, or Europoid) has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

, Western Asia (Middle East), Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. Historically, the term has been used to describe the entire population of these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone.

The concept of a Caucasian race or Varietas Caucasia was developed around 1800 by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was a German physician, physiologist and anthropologist, one of the first to explore the study of mankind as an aspect of natural history, whose teachings in comparative anatomy were applied to classification of what he called human races, of which he determined...

, a German scientist and classical anthropologist.
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The term Caucasian race (also Caucasoid, Europid, or Europoid) has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

, Western Asia (Middle East), Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. Historically, the term has been used to describe the entire population of these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone.

Origin of the concept


The concept of a Caucasian race or Varietas Caucasia was developed around 1800 by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was a German physician, physiologist and anthropologist, one of the first to explore the study of mankind as an aspect of natural history, whose teachings in comparative anatomy were applied to classification of what he called human races, of which he determined...

, a German scientist and classical anthropologist. Blumenbach named it after the Caucasian peoples
Caucasian peoples
This article deals with the various ethnic groups inhabiting the Caucasus region. There are more than50 ethnic groups living in the region.-Peoples speaking Caucasian languages:...

 (from the Southern Caucasus
South Caucasus
The South Caucasus is a geopolitical region located on the border of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia also referred to as Transcaucasia, or The Trans-Caucasus...

 region), whom he considered to be the archetype for the grouping. He based his classification of the Caucasian race primarily on craniology. Blumenbach wrote:

Physical anthropology


Caucasoid or Caucasian phenotypic traits, such as craniofacial features and bone morphology became popularised in 19th century and early 20th century literature of physical anthropology
Physical anthropology
Biological anthropology is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology and in forensic anthropology...

, by scientists such as Samuel George Morton
Samuel George Morton
Samuel George Morton was an American physician and natural scientist. Morton, reared a Quaker but became Episcopalian in midlife, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1820. After earning an advanced degree from Edinburgh University in...

, James Cowles Prichard
James Cowles Prichard
James Cowles Prichard MD FRS was an English physician and ethnologist. His influential Researches into the physical history of mankind touched upon the subject of evolution...

, Robert Bennett Bean
Robert Bennett Bean
Robert Bennett Bean M.D. was a Professor of Anatomy and ethnologist.-Life & Career:Bean through his mother was a descendant of William Randolph, he studied medicine and anatomy and obtained a B.S. in medicine, followed by an M.D. in anatomy in 1904...

, William Zebina Ripley and Roland Dixon. Later anthropologists such as Reginald Ruggles Gates
Reginald Ruggles Gates
Reginald Ruggles Gates , was a Canadian born anthropologist, botanist, and geneticist. He did most of his work in the United Kingdom and the United States. He received his Bachelor of Science from McGill University with further education in Chicago and London. He did botanical work in Missouri in...

, Carleton S. Coon
Carleton S. Coon
Carleton Stevens Coon, was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.-Biography:Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a...

 and Sonia Mary Cole
Sonia Mary Cole
Sonia Mary Cole was a British geologist, anthropologist and author for the British Museum. Cole was a close friend of Mary Leakey who wrote her obituary. She is most remembered for her work Races of Man, which drew heavily from Carleton Coon....

 continued to popularise the term in the second half of the 20th century. The physical traits of Caucasoid crania are still recognised as distinct (in contrast to Mongoloid and Negroid races) within modern forensic anthropology. A Caucasoid skull is identified, with an accuracy of up to 95%, by the following features:
  • Little or no prognathism exhibited - an orthognathic face with little protrusion in the dental region.
  • Retreating zygomatic bones, making the face look more "pointed".
  • Narrow nasal aperture, with a "tear shaped" nasal cavity.


Furthermore according to Coon
Carleton S. Coon
Carleton Stevens Coon, was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.-Biography:Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a...

 (1962), phenotypically, the Caucasoid is recognised by cymotrichous (wavy) hair, and in contrast to the Negroid and Mongoloid races, has the lightest pigmentation, ranging from pale white to a brownish olive skin complexion.

Classification


Conceived as one of the "great races", alongside Mongoloid
Mongoloid race
Mongoloid is a term sometimes used by forensic anthropologists and physical anthropologists to refer to populations that share certain phenotypic traits such as epicanthic fold and shovel-shaped incisors and other physical traits common in East Asia, the Americas and the Arctic...

 and Negroid
Negroid race
Negroid is a term sometimes used by forensic anthropologists and physical anthropologists to refer to populations that share certain phenotypic traits such as high Melanin levels and skeletal features associated with ancestry from Sub-saharan Africa.It was introduced by early Racial science used...

, it was taken to consist of a number of "subraces". The Caucasoid peoples were usually divided in three groups on linguistic grounds, termed Aryan
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 (Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

), Semitic (Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

) and Hamitic (Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

-Cushitic
Cushitic languages
The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family spoken in the Horn of Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. They are named after the Biblical character Cush, who was identified as an ancestor of the speakers of these specific languages as early as AD 947...

-Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

).
The postulated subraces vary depending on the author, including but not limited to Nordic, Mediterranean
Mediterranean race
The Mediterranean race was one of the three sub-categories into which the Caucasian race and the people of Europe were divided by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, following the publication of William Z. Ripley's book The Races of Europe...

, Alpine
Alpine race
The Alpine race is an historical racial classification or sub-race of humans, considered a branch of the Caucasian race. The term is not commonly used today, but was popular in the early 20th century.-History:...

, Dinaric
Dinaric race
The Dinaric race is one of the sub-categories of the Europid race into which it was divided by physical anthropologists in the early 20th century...

, East Baltic
East Baltic race
The East Baltic race is one of the subcategories of the Europid race into which it was divided by anthropologists in the early 20th century....

, Arabid
Arabid race
The Oriental race is an antiquated term for a morphological sub-type of the supposed Mediterranean race, used in historical physical anthropology....

, Turanid, Iranid
Iranid race
Iranid race was a term used in scientific racism for the populations native to the Iranian plateau. The Iranid type was classified as belonging to the greater Caucasian race, and was variously associated with either the Nordic or the Mediterranean subtypes, depending on the authority...

 and Armenoid subraces.

19th century classifications of the peoples of India considered the Dravidians of non-Caucasoid stock as Australoid
Australoid
The Australoid race is a broad racial classification. The concept originated with a typological method of racial classification. They were described as having dark skin with wavy hair, in the case of Veddoids from South Asia and Aboriginal Australians, or hair ranging from straight to kinky in the...

or a separate Dravida race, and assumed a gradient of miscegenation of high-caste Caucasoid Aryans
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

and indigenous Dravidians.

By contrast, Carleton S. Coon
Carleton S. Coon
Carleton Stevens Coon, was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.-Biography:Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a...

 in his 1939 The Races of Europe
The Races of Europe
The Races of Europe is the title of two anthropological publications*The Races of Europe by William Z. Ripley*The Races of Europe by Carleton S. Coon...

classified the Dravidians as Caucasoid as well, due to his assessment of what he called their "Caucasoid skull structure" and other physical traits (e.g. noses, eyes, hair). In his The Living Races of Man, Coon stated that "India is the easternmost outpost of the Caucasian racial region". Sarah A Tishkoff and Kenneth K Kidd state: "Despite disagreement among anthropologists, this classification remains in use by many researchers, as well as lay people."

There was no universal consensus of the validity of the "Caucasian" grouping within those who attempted to categorize human variation. Thomas Henry Huxley in 1870 wrote that the "absurd denomination of 'Caucasian'" was in fact a conflation of his Xanthochroi and Melanochroi types.

In 1920, H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 referred to the Mediterranean race
Mediterranean race
The Mediterranean race was one of the three sub-categories into which the Caucasian race and the people of Europe were divided by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, following the publication of William Z. Ripley's book The Races of Europe...

 as the Iberian race. He regarded it as a fourth subrace of the Caucasian race, along with the Aryan, Semitic, and Hamitic subraces. He stated that the main ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 that most purely represented the racial stock of the Iberian race was the Basques, and that the Basques were the descendants of the Cro-Magnons. In 1994, in his book The History and Geography of Human Genes, population geneticist L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza stated that “there is support from many sides” for the hypothesis that the Basques are the descendents of the original Cro-Magnons.

A 1989 article in Scientific American by Colin Renfrew classifies the Dravidian race, along with the Semitic race and the Aryan race, as the three major subdivisions that emerged from the Proto-Caucasian race, which he states separated into the aforementioned three groups about 9,000 BCE after migrating from North Africa—-the Semitics (i.e., Proto-Semitics
Proto-Semitic language
Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language ancestral to historical Semitic languages of the Middle East. Locations which have been proposed for its origination include northern Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant with a 2009 study proposing that it may have originated around...

) establishing themselves in and radiating from Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

, the Aryans (i.e., Proto-Indo-Europeans
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

) establishing themselves in and radiating from Catal Huyuk, and the Dravidians (i.e., Proto-Dravidians) establishing themselves in and radiating from what is now southern Iran.

In the early twentieth century, Carleton Coon argued that the "Caucasoid race" is of dual origin, consisting of Upper Paleolithic
Upper Paleolithic
The Upper Paleolithic is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. Very broadly it dates to between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, roughly coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity and before the advent of...

 (mixture of H. sapiens and neanderthalensis) types and Mediterranean (purely H. sapiens) types. He repeated his theory in his 1962 book The Origin of Races.

Medical sciences


In the medical sciences, where response to pharmaceuticals and other treatment can vary dramatically based on ethnicity, there is great debate as to whether racial categorizations as broad as Caucasian are medically valid. Several journals (e.g. Nature Genetics, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and the British Medical Journal) have issued guidelines stating that researchers should carefully define their populations and avoid broad-based social constructions, because these categories are more likely to be measuring differences in socioeconomic class and access to medical treatment that disproportionately affect minority groups, rather than racial differences. Nevertheless, there are journals (e.g. the Journal of Gastroentorology and Hepatology and Kidney International) that continue to use racial categories such as Caucasian.

Usage in the United States



In the United States the term Caucasoid is commonly associated with notions of racial typology and modern usage is generally associated with racial notions and therefore discouraged, as it is potentially offensive. The term "Caucasoid" is still used in certain disciplines such as craniometry, epidemiology and forensic archaeology. Even in a medical context, some scholars have recommended that the term Caucasoid be avoided in scientific writings because of its association with racism and race science.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the term Caucasian has been mainly used to describe a group commonly called White
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

s
, as defined by the government and Census Bureau. Between 1917
Immigration Act of 1917
On February 4, 1917, the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 with an overwhelming majority, overriding President Woodrow Wilson's December 14, 1916 veto...

 and 1965, immigration to the US was restricted by a national origins quota. The Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind
United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind
United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, who was a Punjabi Sikh, settled in Oregon, could not be a naturalized citizen of the United States, because he was not a "white person" in the sense intended in...

(1923) decided that Asian Indians and Middle Easterners – unlike Europeans – were Caucasian, but were not white, because most laypeople did not consider them to be white people
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

. This was important for determining whether they could become naturalized citizens, then limited to free whites. The court and government changed its opinion in 1946. In 1965 major changes were made to immigration law, lifting earlier restrictions on immigrants from Caucasoid Asia.

The United States National Library of Medicine
United States National Library of Medicine
The United States National Library of Medicine , operated by the United States federal government, is the world's largest medical library. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the NLM is a division of the National Institutes of Health...

 has used the term "Caucasian" as a race in the past, but has discontinued its usage in favor of the term "European".

See also

  • Anthropometry
    Anthropometry
    Anthropometry refers to the measurement of the human individual...

  • Race and genetics
  • Race (U.S. Census)
  • Historical definitions of race
  • Peoples of the Caucasus

Diaspora

  • Ethnic groups in Europe
  • White people
    White people
    White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

  • White American
    White American
    White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

  • European American
    European American
    A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

  • White Hispanic and Latino Americans
    White Hispanic and Latino Americans
    White Hispanic and Latino Americans are citizens and residents of the United States who are racially White and ethnically Hispanic or Latino.White American, itself an official U.S...

  • European Australian
    European Australian
    A European Australian is a citizen or resident of Australia who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

  • White Latin American
    White Latin American
    White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

  • White Brazilian
    White Brazilian
    White Brazilians make up 48.4% of Brazil's population, or around 92 million people, according to the IBGE's 2008 PNAD . Whites are present in the entire territory of Brazil, although the main concentrations are found in the South and Southeastern parts of the country...

  • White Mexican
    White Mexican
    Mexicans of European descent, often called "güeros" or blancos in Mexican Spanish, are generally those of light skin and predominantly European features which are most often associated with Mexico's upper and middle socioeconomic classes...

  • White Africans of European ancestry

Literature

  • Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, On the Natural Varieties of Mankind (1775) — the book that introduced the concept — a history of the pseudoscience of race, skull measurements, and IQ inheritability — a major reference of modern population genetics

External links