What is race?
A race is a population of humans distinguished from other populations. The most widely used racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color and facial features). Conceptions of race, as well as specific racial groupings, vary by culture and time and are often controversial due to their impact on social identity hence identity politics. It has been argued that knowledge acquired through research on human genome variation increasingly challenges the applicability of the term 'race' to human population groups (e.g., Royal and Dunston, Changing the paradigm from 'race' to human genome variation. Nat Genet. 2004 Nov;36(11 Suppl):S5-7).
Since the 1940s, evolutionary scientists have rejected the view of race according to which a number of finite lists of essential characteristics could be used to determine a like number of races. By the 1960s, data and models from population genetics called into question taxonomic understandings of race, and many have turned from conceptualizing and analyzing human variation in terms of race to doing so in terms of populations and clines instead. That being said, many scientists still believe that race is a valid and useful concept Moreover, since the 1990s, data and models from genomics and cladistics have resulted in a revolution in our understanding of human evolution, which has led some to propose a new "lineage" definition of race. These scientists have made related arguments that races are valid when understood as fuzzy sets, clusters, or extended families. Currently, opinions differ substantially within and among academic disciplines.
Many evolutionary and social scientists, drawing on such biological research, think common race definitions, or any race definitions pertaining to humans, lack taxonomic rigour and validity. They argue that race definitions are imprecise, arbitrary, derived from custom, and that the races observed vary according to the culture examined. They further maintain that race is best understood as a social construct. Other scientists, however, have argued that this shift is motivated more by political than scientific reasons
What is ethnicity?
While ethnicity and race are related concepts, the concept of ethnicity is rooted in the idea of societal groups, marked especially by shared nationality, tribal afilliation, religious faith, shared language, or cultural and traditional origins and backgrounds, whereas race is rooted in the idea of biological classification of homo sapiens to subspecies according to morphological features such as skin color or facial characteristics.
It is a term also used to justify real or imagined historic ties as well. In English, Ethnicity goes far beyond the modern ties of a person to a particular nation (e.g., citizenship), and focuses more upon the connection to a perceived shared past and culture. See also Romanticism, folklore. In other languages, the corresponding terms for ethnicity and nationhood can be closer to each other.
The 19th century saw the development of the political ideology of ethnic nationalism, when the vague concept of race was tied to nationalism, first by German theorists including Johann Gottfried von Herder. Instances of societies focusing on ethnic ties to the exclusion of history or historical context arguably have resulted in almost fanatical self-justifying nationalist and/or imperialist goals. Two periods frequently cited as examples of this are the 19th-century consolidation and expansion of the German Empire, and the Third Reich, each promoted on the theory that these governments were only re-possessing lands that had "always" been ethnically German. The history of the Balkans is particularly riddled with inter-ethnic conflicts.
The term "ethnicity" may also be used to refer to a particular ethnic group: "People of various ethnicities."
Historically, the word "ethnic" signified "gentile," coming from the Greek adjective "ethnikos." The adjective is derived from the noun ethnos, which meant foreign people or nations. The noun "ethnic" ceased to be related to "heathen" in the early 18th century. The use of the term ethnic in the modern sense began in the mid-20th century.
What is nationality?
Nationality is, in English usage, the legal relationship between a person and a country. Where the country only has one legal system, this represents the common perception, but where the country is divided into separate states, different rules apply. Upon birth, every person acquires a domicile. This is the relationship between a person and a specific legal system. Hence, one might have an Australian nationality and a domicile in New South Wales, or an American nationality and a domicile in Arizona. The person remains subject to the state's jurisdiction for the purposes of defining status and capacity, even while not on the state's territory; in exchange, the individual is entitled to the state's protection, and to other rights as well. This is an aspect of the public policy of parens patriae and the concepts of the social contract. In the civil law systems of continental Europe, the law of nationality is preferred to domicile as the test of a person's status and capacity.
The nationals of a country generally possess the right of abode in the territory of the country whose nationality they hold, though there are some exceptions (e.g., British Nationality Law).
Nationality must be distinguished from citizenship: citizens have rights to participate in the political life of the state of which they are a citizen, such as by voting or standing for election; while nationals need not have these rights, though normally they do.
Traditionally under international law and private international law, it was the right of each state to determine who its nationals are. However, today the law of nationality is increasingly coming under regulation, e.g., by the various conventions on statelessness, and the European Convention on Nationality.
Nationality can generally be acquired by jus soli, jus sanguinis or naturalisation.
Some countries do not permit dual nationality while others only allow a very limited form of dual citizenship (e.g. Indian nationality law, South African nationality law). A person who is not a national of any state is referred to as a stateless person.
The nationality of a legal person (e.g., a corporation) is generally the state under whose laws the legal person is registered.
What is racism?
Racism is the belief that people of different races differ in value. In general the racist's own race is considered the most valuable and others less valuable. The belief that the character and abilities of individuals are correlated with their race is not necessarily racism, since this can be asserted without implying an inequality in value. The application of this belief in dealing with members of that race, especially with little regard for variations within "races", is known as racial prejudice. Granting or withholding rights or privileges based on race or refusing to associate with persons based on race is racial discrimination. The term 'racism' is used in various ways, but is most commonly used to describe the attitudes of those who are racially prejudiced or who practice racial discrimination.
(Edited by wmudude at 1:45 pm on Sep. 19, 2005)
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