studying races


From: Linda Clemens
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 4:04 pm
Subject: studying races

On another board, Peter Farrell has responded to my remarks on racism and the study of racial differences.

You say that you see value in the study of racial differences in certain contexts, including considerations of their variability in terms of history and geography. But you go on to say that you cannot see anything in Steiner except as to claim that some races are better than others.

Regardless of whether this is a fair characterization, can't you admit that the same criticisms can be made to such studies in science? Millions of people certainly make that same criticism. Work and insights in the field of anthropology up until relatively recently (30 or 40 years) was suffused with cultural and racist biases. The discipline itself largely shaped it character from the colonialism where it was born, in an atmosphere of racial superiority.

So how big of a risk does this "baggage" pose today? To emphasize, I'm mostly interested in why this wouldn't argue that this kind of science has no place at all. Why is the threat so much more serious in Waldorf than it would be in science?

By the way---the field of anthropology has become largely "paralyzed" by this concern. A kind of social activism and "deconstructionism" as is applied now in non-scientific studies such as literature or history has replaced the more traditional disciplines because of it. Eliminating cultural biases is one thing. But this over-reaction reminds me of the political attacks on academics we've seen in closed societies like China or Iran, motivated by the supposedly "dangerous" consequences of the study being attacked.



Re: To Peter 2

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