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, 34 (2), 107-11

Forensic Anthropology and the Concept of Race: If Races Don't Exist, Why Are Forensic Anthropologists So Good at Identifying Them?

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Forensic Anthropology and the Concept of Race: If Races Don't Exist, Why Are Forensic Anthropologists So Good at Identifying Them?

N J Sauer. Soc Sci Med.

Abstract

Most anthropologists have abandoned the concept of race as a research tool and as a valid representation of human biological diversity. Yet, race identification continues to be one of the central foci of forensic anthropological casework and research. It is maintained in this paper that the successful assignment of race to a skeletal specimen is not a vindication of the race concept, but rather a prediction that an individual, while alive was assigned to a particular socially constructed 'racial' category. A specimen may display features that point to African ancestry. In this country that person is likely to have been labeled Black regardless of whether or not such a race actually exists in nature.

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