The Myth of Race: The Facts Behind the Illusion

Nothing seems more obvious than that people are divided into races, right? Some of us are black, others white, Asian, etc. Wrong! Dr. Peter Dunham, associate professor of anthropology at Cleveland State University, notes that there is absolutely no scientific evidence for the existence of races. When we look at all of humanity, we cannot be sorted into a few large continental groups. Rather, we vary according to how our ancestors adapted to different environmental conditions, which do not follow the dictates of race. Race is a cultural construct, a perception that we all embrace. This presentation reviews the biological data, demonstrating that race is a fallacy. It also bids us to consider the broader significance of the delusion of race. As a society, we spend vast amounts of energy and angst over something that does not really exist. Can we imagine ourselves without race? Will we allow ourselves to live in a world free from race, or will we remain forever divided by its baseless mythology?


Dr. Dunham is an anthropologist, a student of human biological and cultural variation. A recipient of multiple major grants from the National Geographic Society and others, he has spent decades investigating the native peoples and cultures of the Americas, especially the Maya in Central America. Building on the insights gained in the course of his career, he developed CSU’s general education course on Human Diversity (ANT 100). He shares with us here one of the most important lessons from the course—the fact that there is no scientific validity to race—and explores the wider implications of this realization.

Wednesday, February 19 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Ronald M. Berkman Hall, Rm. 137

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