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Theories of Cultural Diversity – Anthropological Theory of Culture Essay


Written by Eric Wolf, the article Unforeseen Americas: The Making of the New World Societies in Anthropological Perspective presents first-hand information about the ongoing social and cultural insinuations of European exploration and settlement of the Americans. The author scrutinizes the effects of societal and cultural practices on the migrations and settlements of different races in the modern United States.

In correcting the misconceptions of people about the discovery of America, the article addresses the objectives, political and socioeconomic changes, and unanticipated consequences such as oppression and forcible conversions of people for the navigation of Europeans to the new land. The recent crisis of phenotypic groupings is as old as humanity.

According to the author, slavery, prosecutions, segregations, prejudices, religious conflicts, and socio-cultural and political discriminations were the unforeseen outcomes of racism in the United States of America. On the other hand, Charles Hirschman’s article The Origins and Demise of the Concept of Race describes the origin and the end of the theory of race.

In addressing the subject, he considers the foundations of cultural diversities and the results of concept of racism and ethnocentrism. The article depicts that people base their judgment of racial disparities in others’ physical outlook, and has led to an inter-group enmity, abhorrence, biasness, and exploitations. However, it is fallacious to evaluate and term cultural diversities on ordinary social perspective.

Therefore, social sciences and demography should play a significant role in understanding the origin and characteristics of cultural diversities. According to Hirschman, the concepts of race are neither primeval nor ethnic values but have emerged with human civilizations.

Furthermore, activists’ movements have faded the grip of racism. As the two articles point out regarding the subject of racism, elements of injustices on racial identities still exist in the modern societies with race giving the criteria for selection and participation of people in the society.

How Eric Wolf’s article presents the concept of racism

First, the article presents racism through the effects of migration. Wolf explicates that “social and cultural discrimination started during the migration and settlement of people” (2603). For instance, due to migration, Spanish conquered the kingdom of Granada- Muslim strong hold creating a greater conflict between Christian empires and the rising Islamic influence of the Ottoman Turks in the East.

Consequently, Spanish expelled the rebels Jews and forcefully converted Hispanic Muslims to Christianity. Moreover, religious enthusiasm compelled the crown to reinforced Spanish catholic denomination with hope that it would fuel the passion to build a new world order.

Initially the main concern of both European Christendom and Near Eastern Islam was the planning of how to make distinctions among diverse classes of individuals. Therefore, they grouped the religious believers from “Heathen, Heretics, Infidels, and their descendants” (Wolf 2605). The religious wars and classifications of people were the unforeseen primary indicators of racism during the time.

Second, the author views the idea of racism through slavery. The issue of slavery was not a discovery as Northern and Eastern Europe had exported slaves to the Islamic Near East. The slavery recruiters’ never considered the issue of skin color during the recruitment. Eventually, any person with either adequate physique or ability was a plus to the traders irrespective of his or skin color.

Nonetheless, “the new societies of the Americans, which comprise of Indians, Africans, Europeans and the novel combinations of Euro-Indians, Euro-Africans, Afro-Indian, Afro-Europeans, and the Cosmic Race generated by the Columbian voyages, made issues of color to be extremely influential and predominant to an unusual degree and intensity” (Wolf 2606).

However, the Turks later throttled the supplies of slaves bought from Africa because Europeans could no longer access Eastern Mediterranean. Such reorientations of Mediterranean traffic from the Turkish people worsened the economic opportunities of “haters of man”.

Finally, the article presents racism in governance perspective. Columbus’s discovery engineered the rows on the nature of the state and basics of governance. The political centralization of European nations made people question the nature of rule, the human rights, and the relationship between the Church and State.

For instance, the Europeans identified that “…Indians knew neither justice nor gratitude, so they are wholly unpredictable and uncontrollable because they never envisaged a hierarchical ordering of the supernatural, but dealt with a multitude of critical forces” (Wolf 2604). Since socio-cultural and hereditary changes give rise to hierarchical classes, the generations remain uneven and unruly.

Moreover, the issues of injustices, superiority, and inferiority came to be closely engrossed with color in the new American societies.

Albeit’ phenotype’ does not qualify as a definite show of genetic inheritance, the societies recognized color as a sign of social position-spiritual goodwill rights to belong to a political party and trade unions, rights of bequest, kinds of marriage and lineage indices. Such notions and the branding of Indians, whenever they resisted, depict high degree of racism.

How Charles Hirschman’s article presents the subject of racism

First, the article presents the origin and demise of race in ethnocentrism and racial ideologies in the past and the present world (Hirschman 398). The present-day communities are combinations of diverse peoples who migrated from their original inhabitants.

For example, the majority of Americans in the north and south, reflects the modern movement of people from “Africa, Europe and Asia as well as the unification of these people with native Amerindians”. Likewise, the inhabitants of modern Africa reveal the greatest migration into the continent in the past, while exodus from the East contributed to the genetic inheritance of European residents.

Hirschman “ascertains that despite the differences in origin and variations in human diversity among people, antagonism, clashes and peaceful accommodations have always existed within the societies” (386). Logically, certain groups have initiated the philosophies of natural dominance and weakness due to ethnocentrism.

Second, during the medieval period in Spain, the article describes patterns of oppression disparities, segregations, and numerous clashes that have existed among Muslims, Jews, and Christians (Hirschman 390). Moreover, Greek presented racism, especially in their perceptive of humanity and political suppositions that distinguished between barbarism societies and those governed by moral values.

Racism and ethnocentrism have existed with humankind to the present. For instance, the fact that “…a person sees others’ culture as inferior lacking the capacity to create a society comparable to his or her own depicts who and where one should be eligible for admissions in the universities, in the world” (Hirschman 388). Civilization in Asia, Europe, and Middle East also resulted in multiracial populaces.

Third, in the perspectives of physical and cultural diversity, the article indicates that modern race of humankind first settled a round Africa before moving to their present counties and ecosystems. However, changes in climatic and geographical conditions and the availability of sustenance have impelled the migration and settlement of people in the main world regions (Hirschman 406).

People initially considered many regions of the earth as uninhabitable, but the lowering of the oceans created expanded regions of human settlement. Therefore, the immigrations, stretches of peace and isolations gave rise to different races, which occurred naturally, as people acclimatize to new climatic regions and learning how to live on such environments (Hirschman 400).

The passage of cultural patterns from one generation to another makes human communities change their response to environmental conditions and socio-cultural aspects so rapidly.

Separating people geographically, from each other and for a long time, results to people with differences in physical appearance (Hirschman 407). The distribution of diverse phenotypes in the current world depicts only an estimated evidence of their geographical origin.


Based on the expositions made in the paper, it suffices to infer whatsoever people believe they are or imagine others are as incoherent. Although the concept of race began during the migration and settlement of people, racism has developed steadily with the civilizations of humanity. Philosophically, any person born a member of a given race is his/her mistake.

However, the problem comes when a person is accustomed to thinking linearly. Most countries have not legitimized racism. However, negative elements such as prejudices, oppression, and discriminations are still self-evident mainly in America, Europe, and Asia.

For instance, in the United States, different regions carried out distinctions and discriminations by color somewhat differently to the level that they consider any person with mixed black and white ancestry as exclusively black.

Logically people have a common origin but cannot have the same skin color. The rationale to symbolize “horrific films and drawings” with a black color is also questionable. Social scientists accentuate the pragmatic evidences on racial theories of humans in terms of physical appearances.

Genetic researches have minimized the notion that physical looks are outward signs of heritage traits such as socio-cultural qualities. Nevertheless, People need such emphasis to make them comprehend the real cause of these variations in appearances.

Otherwise, unexpected consequence such as religious rifts, cultural clashes, bad governance, segregations, suppressions, hatreds, and gender discriminations will continue to exist. Grouping people by skin color and the texture of their hair- putting black people in cargos like cell phones-should not stand a chance in the civilized society.

Works Cited

Hirschman, Charles. The Origins and Demise of the Concept of Race. Populations and Development Review 30. 3 (2004): 385-415.

Wolf, Eric. Unforeseen Americas: The Making of the New World Societies in Anthropological Perspective. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 93. 6 (1996): 2603-2607.

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1. IvyPanda. "Theories of Cultural Diversity - Anthropological Theory of Culture." January 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/theories-of-cultural-diversity-anthropological-theory-of-culture-essay/.


IvyPanda. "Theories of Cultural Diversity - Anthropological Theory of Culture." January 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/theories-of-cultural-diversity-anthropological-theory-of-culture-essay/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Theories of Cultural Diversity - Anthropological Theory of Culture." January 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/theories-of-cultural-diversity-anthropological-theory-of-culture-essay/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Theories of Cultural Diversity - Anthropological Theory of Culture'. 26 January.

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