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Q: What is the connection between Caucasian as race and the Caucasian mountains? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: What is the connection between Caucasian as race and the Caucasian mountains?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: carmi604-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 21 Jan 2004 03:50 PST
Expires: 20 Feb 2004 03:50 PST
Question ID: 298663
White people in America are called Caucasians.  Why? 
 Thank you.
Subject: Re: What is the connection between Caucasian as race and the Caucasian mountains?
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 21 Jan 2004 05:01 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi carmi604,

The answer to your question is that the term Caucasian is a relic of a
time when it was applied to a supposed ?race? of people that included
most of the natives of Europe, West Asia, North Africa, and extending
into the Indian subcontinent.

As a description of a racial category, the term was first proposed by
the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1775. His studies
based the classification of the Caucasian race primarily on skull
features, which Blumenbach claimed were optimized by the inhabitants
of Georgia in the Caucasus Mountains.

Interestingly, although used today in popular North American English
to describe ?white? people or people of European origin, the original
description of the Caucasian race was of a people of light to brown
skin pigmentation and straight to wavy or curly hair.

Today the term is not considered to be scientifically or even
descriptively accurate and generally not used by scientists.

As for why the North American public has adopted the term and narrowed
its definition, I think that?s impossible to say. Word definitions
drift over time.

This is pure speculation, but I think in some cases a more
?scientific? word sounds better to people and they start using it,
whether or not they understand the original or scientific definition.
The decidedly non-scientific media, politicians and police may have
started using the term Caucasian authoritatively as a synonym for
white ? you know: ?Captain, we have a Caucasian male of approximately
35 years?? because it sounds more professional than, ?We have a 35
year old white man.?

This use by authoritative sources further reinforces the new meaning
of the term Caucasian and before you know it, the public has
completely adopted it as the official descriptive term for ?white.?

Here are some definitions and historical notes on the terms Caucasian and Race. 





That should clear things up for you. Thanks for a great question!


search terms:

Caucasian race definition
carmi604-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you very much.  Now I know  the Georgians are, according to
Blumenbach, my closest "race" brothers...including Stalin!
  By the way, I encountered the term only in  American usage.

Subject: Re: What is the connection between Caucasian as race and the Caucasian mountains?
From: answerfinder-ga on 21 Jan 2004 05:30 PST
"This concern with good climate and with beauty also led to the naming
of the Caucasian race. The story begins with Bernier, who encountered
Circassian slave women in Turkey and Persia, and concluded on the
basis of this evidence that people from the Caucasus were the
handsomest on earth. Buffon echoed this sentiment. Blumenbach, using
their accounts and also having in his possession a single skull from
the region, came to the same conclusion. He thought it likely,
therefore, that mankind in general and Europeans in particular had
originated from this region, and so named the European race after
Mount Caucasus. From Blumenbach, "I have taken the name of this
variety from Mount Caucasus...because its neighborhood...produces the
most beautiful race of men,...; and because all physiological reasons
converge to this, that in that region if anywhere, it seems we ought
with greatest probability place the autochthones of mankind. For in
the first place, that stock displays, as we have seen..., the most
beautiful form of the skull...."
On the Natural Variety of Mankind: Section IV. Five principal
varieties of mankind, one species. Translated from the German and reprinted in E.W.
Count (ed.) (1950). This is Race, pp. 34-39. New York: Henry Schuman.

Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Gilder Lehrman Center International Conference
at Yale University
Why White People Are Called 'Caucasian?'
37  page discussion


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