Racism Degree Zero: Epistemological Aspects of the Genetics Perspective

Africa e Mediterraneo n. 96 (1/22)

The issue 96 of Africa e Mediterraneo, entitled ‘The Zero Degree of Racism’, edited by Vincenzo Fano and Matteo Bedetti, investigates some of the most controversial aspects of the unfortunately still-ongoing debate on racial differences. The tendency to divide human people into races to which homogeneous and essential characteristics are assigned is still widespread and supported not only by social behaviors and cultural attitudes, but also by a dangerous, increasing pseudo-science that fuels the discourse on this topic. Starting from the work of the geneticist Richard Lewontin, who has shown how genetic variation between ‘races’ is minimal compared to the one within populations, the dossier offers some keys to interpret racist thought, including contributions that range from anthropological examination to philosophical thought, to the most recent studies in genetics.

In fact, it has articles by Guido Barbujani, a geneticist who has specializes in the history of human populations, by the philosophers of science Giovanni Boniolo, Federico Boem, Ivan Colagè and Stefano Oliva and by psychologist Valeria Vaccari, who focuses on the psychology of racist thought. In particular, we would like to highlight the contribution by Erika Grasso and Gianluigi Mangiapane on the political use of archaeology during fascism and of museum institutions—the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the University of Turin above all, which played a very important role in disseminating the regime’s racist propaganda, a role that has not yet been critically addressed. Closing of the scientific section of the issue is an “in memoriam” by Bogumil Jewsiewicki, of Professor Carlo Carbone, a distinguished scholar of Great Lakes Africa and member of the scientific committee of Africa e Mediterraneo, who passed away recently.

The contributions are accompanied by a selection of shots of some of the works exhibited at the African pavilions of the Venice Biennale 2022, on which Mary Angela Schroth wrote a review. The issue also includes an unpublished translation by Professor Marcella Rubino of two chapters of the novel “I Giango” by Sudanese writer Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin.

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