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Sorry for the mass of repetition, but:
 
> > That's where all the problems lie; there is massive confusion about
> > these concepts because they are difficult to define. As it is,
> > ethnicity as a concept was adopted in the 1950s and 1960s
> > into anthropology as a direct substitute for race when such notions
> > became rather uncomfortable to deal with.
>
> Uncomfortable for whom Iain? The *PC* crowd?
 
This was somewhat before PC was invented as a concept. The point is
that anthropologists felt uncomfortable with the term "race" after
the Second World War and so tried to get away from anything which
might suggest that human being had their behaviour pre-set by their
ancestry.
>
>
> > Race itself is a spurious
> > concept which cannot be proved scientifically.
> Iain, I think Carleton Coon's answer in "The Races of Europe" still
> applies as much today as it did then...see the general introduction
> section under "Theory and Principles of the Concept of Race" page #3.
> "The concept of race is general one, and any attempt to chain it down to  a
> more specific meaning represents a too rigid attempt at taxonomy."
 
As has been said many times before, there is only one race in the
world, the human race. If you would care to read some of the current
research in genetics rather than the work of Dr Coon from some years
ago, you will see that the current findings are that genetic markers
cut across population groups and that the races which "common sense"
might indicate, cannot be determined genetically.
 
> > In terms of the relationship between ethnicity and culture, what else
> >would you define ethnicity as?
> Maybe a natural breeding group? :D
 
This is an interesting idea, although incorrect in terms of being a
"natural" breeding group. It is certainly possible that ethnic groups
act as breeding groups, if you want to take that rather mechanistic
view of human social behaviour. However, this still does not address
the issue of what ethnicity actually is. It has no meaning if taken
as blood descent, because then it can only apply to blood relations
within families. If it means being a part of a cultural group and
following particular social and religious practices, then it has much
more meaning. The other major identifier is language: nothing marks
an outsider quicker than the fact that they speak differently. This
can apply to things as low-key as family name, where outsiders can be
identified because their surname doesn't match those of the group.
 
There has been a lot of mention on the list of late about the
different parts of people's ancestries having an effect on their
perceptions and behaviour. Do you really think that if you had no
information about Celtic ancestors in your family history that you
would nonetheless feel that Celtic-ness coming through? Of course you
wouldn't. What constitutes Celtic behaviour anyway? Does anybody out
there still believe all that guff about hot tempers, love of life,
mystical foresights etc etc? It's rubbish. Scots are no different as
people than anybody else; cultural elements have an effect, nothing
more. What determines whether you're a jakie or a jeelie-heid is
whether you live on a crap estate, whether you can get a job which
engages you, whether the people who assess your job applications are
bigots or not. What determines whether you are a soor-faced,
miserable git or an uptight, guilt-ridden drama lover is your
religion.
 
Sorry to everyone else about the rant here, but I do get tired with
the constant return to questions of "race", like dogs return to their
vomit. It is something I feel rather strongly about. Anyway, enough
of that, Scotland have just beaten the French in the 5 nations, so
it's time to go and have five minutes of nationalism down the pub.
 
Cheers,
 
Iain Banks
Glasgow