Biological Anthropology—Unpacking Race and Biology

Taught By Professor Scott Lacy, Ph.D.

What does it mean to be human? Where did we come from? And what unites us in our diversity today?

As the world population continues to explode, these big questions about humanity become increasingly important, and biological anthropology is the field of study that tackles them. From our tree-dwelling primate ancestors 63 million years ago through today’s globally connected citizens, anthropology looks at Homo sapiens to find out why we are the way we are.

The study of biological anthropology combines a number of disciplines—biology, archaeology, language, and culture— in order to paint a comprehensive picture of humanity’s development. In this full lecture on biological anthropology you’ll unpack the ambiguities around race, skin color, and biology. After reviewing the history of Social Darwinism, you’ll see how Franz Boas and other 20th century anthropologists shifted our understanding of race to show how it is a cultural construct, independent of biology and geography.

From the Lecture Series: Anthropology and the Study of Humanity
Taught by Professor Scott Lacy, Ph.D.