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1 October 2015 Racial Experience as an Alternative Operationalization of Race
Jada Benn Torres, Gabriel A. Torres Colón
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The study of human variation is central to both social and biomedical sciences, but social and biomedical scientists diverge in how variation is theorized and operationalized. Race is especially problematic because it is a cultural concept that contains implicit and explicit understandings of how collective bodies differ. In this article, we propose an operationalization of race that addresses both racial experience and human biological diversity, placing them within the same ontological sphere. Furthermore, this approach can more effectively advance antiracist pedagogy and politics. We argue that human biological diversity does not have to be in opposition to constructivist notions of race. Rather, racial experience is emphasized as an embodied experience that is as real and as valid as biological variation. By focusing on both racial experience and biological diversity, it becomes more feasible to operationalize race to fruitfully inform the pedagogy and politics of antiracism. To do so, racial experience must be more broadly conceived and should not always equate to negative outcomes. With the recognition that racial experience has the potential to be something other than damaging, an antiracist anthropology can more effectively address issues pertaining to racial health disparities.

© 2016 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201
Jada Benn Torres and Gabriel A. Torres Colón "Racial Experience as an Alternative Operationalization of Race," Human Biology 87(4), 306-312, (1 October 2015).
Received: 5 June 2015; Accepted: 22 July 2015; Published: 1 October 2015
racial experience
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