Jonathan M. Marks

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Jonathan M. Marks
Born1955 (age 63–64)
OrganizationUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte
Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (Nixon, Nevada)

Jonathan M. Marks (born 1955) is an American biological anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is a significant figure in anthropology, especially on the topic of race. Marks is skeptical of genetic explanations of human behavior, of "race" as a biological category, and of science as a rationalistic endeavor.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1955, Marks studied at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and took graduate degrees in genetics and anthropology from the University of Arizona, completing his doctorate in 1984.


Marks did post-doctoral research in the genetics department at UC-Davis from 1984-1987, then taught at Yale for 10 years and Berkeley for 3, before settling in Charlotte where he is now a professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.[1]

Marks is a leading figure in anthropology, especially when it comes to public discussions of race.[2] His work has been praised by such social scientists as Alondra Nelson, Agustín Fuentes, Barbara J. King, and Holly Dunsworth.[2]

Marks has also served on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, Nixon, Nevada.[3]

In 2012, he received the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal, honoring his career of intellectual inquiry.[4]


Marks is skeptical of scientists’ understanding of genetics and how genes relate to individual humans or to human groups. He contends that genetic differences do not adequately describe the relationships between humans and chimpanzees because the two species are 98% similar genetically but very different physically and behaviorally.[4]

Marks published works include many scholarly articles and essays. He is an outspoken critic of scientific racism, and has prominently argued against the idea that "race" is a natural category. In Marks's view, "race" is a negotiation between patterns of biological variation and patterns of perceived difference. He argues that race and human diversity are different subjects, and do not map on to one another well.[4]

As described in his book Is Science Racist?, Marks considers science to have four epistemic qualities: naturalism, experimentalism, rationalism, and a primary value on accuracy.[2] In this book and in Why I Am Not a Scientist, he argues that anthropologists are ambiguously scientists.[2] Rather, their purpose is use both scientific and humanistic practice to understand the human condition.[2]


  • Evolutionary Anthropology (1991, with Edward Staski) ISBN 978-0030237324
  • Human Biodiversity (1995) ISBN 3-11-014855-2
  • What It Means to be 98% Chimpanzee (2002) ISBN 0-520-24064-2
  • Why I Am Not a Scientist (2009) ISBN 0-520-25960-2
  • The Alternative Introduction to Biological Anthropology (2010) ISBN 0-19-515703-6
  • Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution (2015) ISBN 0-52-028582-4
  • Is Science Racist? (2017) ISBN 978-0-7456-8922-7

External links[edit]