Ethnicity, race and the APS meeting

I just registered to the APS March meeting. Among the questions that were asked in the application form there were my ethnicity (whether hispanic or not), and my race, to be chosen in a quite un-comprehensive list. Already I don’t understand why the hispanic is an ethnicity (therefore defined on “cultural” traits) while the others are races, defined on other sorts of traits. While the several options presented did include a box “I prefer not to answer”, I didn’t feel compelled to tick that box given that I do have an answer: that defining “races” within humankind is a failed scientific enterprise as well explained by Guido Barbujani in The invention of races. Understanding human genome diversity (which at the moment I can only find in the original Italian), the burden of two hundred years of pseudo-scientific “scholarly” practice. I wrote what a (very probably false) anectode attributes to Einstein, where he specified “human”. But then I repented: I’m not quite sure that it makes any sense at all to define “humans” as a race in the biological sense…

 

 

 

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