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Mongoloid (//) is an outdated historical grouping of various people indigenous to East Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, North Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas. It is one of the traditional three races first introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, the other two groups being Caucasoid and Negroid. Their usage is now generally considered outdated and sometimes offensive.
Individuals within these populations often share certain associated phenotypic traits, such as epicanthic folds, sino- or sundadonty, shovel-shaped incisors, oblique palpebral fissures, straight, black hair, dark brown almond-shaped eyes, relatively flatter faces in comparison to other human beings, neoteny, and the Mongolian spot from birth to about age four years. Historically, the Mongoloid race was regarded as a biological taxon.
The term Mongoloid has had a second usage referencing Down syndrome, now generally regarded as highly offensive. Those affected were often referred to as "Mongoloids" or in terms of "Mongolian idiocy" or "Mongolian imbecility".
History of the concept
Mongolian as a term for race was first introduced in 1785 by Christoph Meiners, a scholar at the then modern Göttingen University. Meiners divided humanity into two races he labeled "Tartar-Caucasians" and "Mongolians", believing the former to be beautiful, the latter to be "weak in body and spirit, bad, and lacking in virtue".:34
His more influential Göttingen colleague Johann Friedrich Blumenbach borrowed the term Mongolian for his division of mankind into five races in the revised 1795 edition of his De generis humani varietate nativa (On the Natural Variety of Mankind). Although Blumenbach's concept of five races later gave rise to scientific racism, his arguments were basically anti-racist, since he underlined that mankind as a whole forms one single species, and points out that the transition from one race to another is so gradual that the distinctions between the races presented by him are "very arbitrary". In Blumenbach's concept, the Mongolian race comprises the peoples living in Asia east of the Ob River, the Caspian Sea and the Ganges River, with the exception of the Malays, who form a race of their own in his concept. Of peoples living outside Asia, he includes the "Eskimos" in northern America and the European Finns, among whom he includes the "Lapps".
In the context of scientific racism
Discussions on race among Western scholars during the 19th century took place against the background of the debate between monogenists and polygenists, the former arguing for a single origin of all mankind, the latter holding that each human race had a specific origin. Monogenists based their arguments either on a literal interpretation of the biblical story of Adam and Eve or on secular research. Since polygenism stressed the perceived differences, it was popular among white supremacists, especially slaveholders in the US.
British biologist Thomas Huxley, a strong advocate of Darwinism and a monogenist, presented the views of polygenists in 1865: "[S]ome imagine their assumed species of mankind were created where we find them... the Mongolians from the Orangs".
During the 19th century, diverging opinions were pronounced whether native Americans or Malays should be included in the grouping which was sometimes called "Mongolian" and sometimes "Mongoloid". For example, D. M. Warren in 1856 used a narrow definition which did not include either the "Malay" or the "American" races, while Huxley (1870) and Alexander Winchell (1881) included both Malays and indigenous Americans. In 1861, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire added the Australian as a secondary race (subrace) of the principal race of Mongolian.
In his Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines (Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, published 1853-55), which would later influence Adolf Hitler, the French aristocrat Arthur de Gobineau defined three races which he called "white", "black", and "yellow". His "yellow race", corresponding to other writers' "Mongoloid race", consisted of "the Altaic, Mongol, Finnish and Tartar branches". While he saw the "white race" as superior, he claimed that the "yellow race" was physically and intellectually mediocre but had an extremely strong materialism that allowed them to achieve certain results.:100
According to the Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885–90), peoples included in the Mongoloid race are North Mongol, Chinese & Indochinese, Japanese & Korean, Tibetan & Burmese, Malay, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, and Native American.
In 1909, a map published based on racial classifications in South Asia conceived by Herbert Hope Risley classified inhabitants of Bengal and parts of Odisha as Mongolo-Dravidians, people of mixed Mongoloid and Dravidian origin. Similarly in 1904, Ponnambalam Arunachalam claimed the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka were a people of mixed Mongolian and Malay racial origins as well as Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Vedda origins. Howard S. Stoudt in The Physical Anthropology of Ceylon (1961) and Carleton S. Coon in The Living Races of Man (1966) classified the Sinhalese as partly Mongoloid.
German physical anthropologist Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, an influential proponent of Rassenkunde (racial studies) in Nazi Germany, classified people from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, East India, parts of Northeast India, western Myanmar and Sri Lanka as East Brachid, referring to people of mixed Indid and South Mongolid origins. Eickstedt also classified the people of central Myanmar, Yunnan, southern Tibet, Thailand and parts of India as Palaungid deriving from the name of the Palaung people of Myanmar. He also classified the Burmese, Karen, Kachin, Shan, Sri Lankans, Tai, South Chinese, Munda and Juang, and others as having "mixed" with the Palaungid phenotype.
In 1972, physical anthropologist Carleton S. Coon said, "From a hyborean [sic] group there evolved, in northern Asia, the ancestral strain of the entire specialized Mongoloid family". In 1962, Coon believed that the Mongoloid "subspecies" existed "during most of the Pleistocene, from 500,000 to 10,000 years ago". According to Coon, the Mongoloid race had not completed its "invasions and expansions" into Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands until "[t]oward the end of the Pleistocene". By this time, Coon hypothesized, the Mongoloid race had become "sapien".[verification needed]
Paleo-anthropologist Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari characterize "his [Carleton Coon's] contention [as being] that the Mongoloid race crossed the 'sapiens threshold' first and thereby evolved the furthest".
Subraces according to Kroeber
Alfred L. Kroeber (1948), Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, referring to the racial classification of mankind on the basis of physical features, said that there are basically "three grand divisions." Kroeber indicated that, within the three-part classification, the Mongoloid, the Negroid, and the Caucasian are the three "primary racial stocks of mankind." Kroeber said that the following are the divisions of the Mongoloid stock: the "Mongolian proper of East Asia," the "Malaysian of the East Indies," and the "American Indian." Kroeber alternatively referred to the divisions of the Mongoloid stock as the following: "Asiatic Mongoloids," "Oceanic Mongoloids," and "American Mongoloids." Kroeber said that the differences among the three divisions of the Mongoloid stock are not very large. Kroeber said that the Malaysian and the American Indian are generalized type peoples while the Mongolian proper is the most extreme or pronounced form. Kroeber said that the original Mongoloid stock must be regarded as being more like the current Malaysians, the current American Indians, or an intermediate type between these two. Kroeber said that it is from these generalized type peoples, who kept more nearly the ancient type, that peoples such as the Chinese gradually diverged, who added the oblique eye, and a "certain generic refinement of physique." Kroeber said that, according to most anthropometrists, the Eskimo is the most particularized sub-variety out of the American Mongoloids. Kroeber said that in the East Indies, and in particular the Philippines, there can at times be distinguished a less specifically Mongoloid strain, which has been called the "Proto-Malaysian," and a more specifically Mongoloid strain, which has been called the "Deutero-Malaysian." Kroeber said that Polynesians appear to have primary Mongoloid connections by way of the Malaysians. Kroeber said that the Mongoloid element of Polynesians is not a specialized Mongoloid. Kroeber said that the Mongoloid element in Polynesians appears to be larger than the definite Caucasian strain in Polynesians. Speaking of Polynesians, Kroeber said that there are locally possible minor Negroid absorptions, as the ancestral Polynesians had to pass by or through archipelagoes which are presently Papuo-Melanesian Negroid to get to the central Pacific.
Leonard Lieberman (1997), professor of anthropology at Central Michigan University, said that Mongoloid is a cultural fiction. Lieberman said that, in 1972, Richard Lewontin examined seventeen hemoglobin traits in what is conventionally labeled as "Mongoloids" as one of the seven alleged "races". Lieberman said that Lewontin (1972) found that "the mean proportion of the total species diversity that is contained within populations is 85.4 percent... the difference between populations within a race is 8.3 percent, so that only 6.3 percent is accounted for by racial classification." Lieberman said that, "In general terms, there is more variation within each of the 'races,' as traditionally defined, than between them." Lieberman said that the vivid picture of the whole world being composed of three distinctive races, the Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid races, has been created by the history of the growth of the United States. Lieberman said that immigration to the United States was from three places, Southeast China, Northwest Europe, and West Africa, which was the basis for the stereotype of the "big three races". This made the point of view of three races appear to be "true, natural, and inescapable." Lieberman said that the diversity of the whole world could not be accurately be represented by three races. Lieberman said that not all Asians can be designated as "Mongoloid." Lieberman said that Asia's inhabitants are greatly diverse including people in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, and various parts of China. Lieberman said that the term "Mongoloid" is derived from the Mongols, a people who ironically are different from other Asians, making the term "Mongoloid" very misleading as a term applied in general to Asians. Lieberman said that, due to the reason of inclusion regarding Asians not all being Mongoloid, and due to the reason of the term being very misleading regarding Mongols ironically being different from other Asians, and due to other variations and inconsistencies, the term "Mongoloid" lacks utility, because the term "Mongoloid is not precise.
Amber N. Heard (2008), from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued "Mongoloid" should be discontinued from forensic literature because Southeast Asians and Northeast Asians differ significantly in their frequency of combined non-metric cranial traits; Southeast Asians and Northeast Asians therefore should not be considered "Mongoloid", but separate ancestry categories.
Criticism based on modern genetics
After discussing various criteria used in biology to define subspecies or races, Alan R. Templeton concludes in 2016: "[T]he answer to the question whether races exist in humans is clear and unambiguous: no.":360
Legal use of the concept in the United States
In 1911, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was using the term "Mongolic grand division," not only to include Mongols, but "in the widest sense of all," to include Malays, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. In 1911, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was placing all "East Indians," a term which included the peoples of "India, Farther India, and Malaysia," in the "Mongolic" grand division.
In 1985, Michael P. Malone of the FBI Laboratory said that the FBI Laboratory is in a good position for the examination of Mongoloid hairs, because it does most of the examinations for Alaska, which has a large Mongoloid population, and it conducts examinations for the majority of Indian reservations in the United States.
In 1987, a report to the National Institute of Justice indicated that the following skeletal collections were of the "Mongoloid" "Ethnic Group": Arctic Eskimo, Prehistoric North American Indian, Japanese, and Chinese.
In 2005, an article in a journal by the FBI Laboratory defined the term "Mongoloid," as the term is used in forensic hair examinations. It defined the term as, "an anthropological term designating one of the major groups of human beings originating from Asia, excluding the Indian subcontinent and including Native American Indians."
The United States Department of Justice has approved that, for forensic hair examination and/or laboratory reports, the hair examiner may state or imply that a human hair shows "Caucasian (European Ancestry), Negroid (African Ancestry) and/or Mongoloid (Asian or Native American Ancestry)" traits, which may or may not correspond to how an individual racially identifies.
The Mongoloid skull shows a round head shape with a medium-width nasal aperture, rounded orbital margins, massive cheekbones, weak or absent canine fossae, moderate prognathism, absent brow ridges, simple cranial sutures, prominent zygomatic bones, broad, flat, tented nasal root, short nasal spine, shovel-shaped upper incisor teeth (scooped out behind), straight nasal profile, moderately wide palate shape, arched sagittal contour, wide facial breadth and a flatter face.
In 1962, Carleton S. Coon said that one of the reasons that Mongoloids have flatter faces than Caucasoids is due to the masseter and temporalis jaw muscles in the faces of Mongoloids being positioned more toward the front of the faces of Mongoloids relative to where these jaw muscles are positioned in the faces of Caucasoids.
According to George W. Gill physical traits of Mongoloid crania are generally distinct from those of the Caucasoid and Negroid races. He asserts that forensic anthropologists can identify a Mongoloid skull with an accuracy of up to 95%. However, Alan H. Goodman cautions that this precision estimate is often based on methodologies using subsets of samples. He also argues that scientists have a professional and ethical duty to avoid such biological analyses since they could potentially have sociopolitical effects.
In 1950, Carleton S. Coon et al. said that Mongoloids have faces that are adapted to the extreme cold of subarctic and arctic conditions. Coon et al. said that Mongoloids have eye sockets that have been extended vertically to make room for the adipose tissue that Mongoloids have around their eyeballs. Coon et al. said that Mongoloids have "reduced" brow ridges to decrease the size of the air spaces inside of their brow ridges known as the frontal sinuses which are "vulnerable" to the cold. Coon et al. said that Mongoloid facial features reduce the surface area of the nose by having nasal bones that are flat against the face and having enlarged cheekbones that project forward which effectively reduce the external projection of the nose.
Carleton S. Coon also has a hypothesis for why noses on Mongoloids are very distinct. Typically, the nose is not very prominent on the face of a Mongoloid. Their frontal sinus is also reduced in order to allow more room for padding to protect from their cold environment. Regardless of the environment that the Mongoloid is in, their nose helps reduce the stress of the environment on their body by moistening the air inspired to cool the body off instead of doing a straight up heat exchange.
Writing in 1980, anthropology professor Joseph K. So at Trent University in Ontario cited a 1965 study by J. T. Steegman showing that the so-called cold-adapted Mongoloid face provided no greater protection against frostbite than the facial structure of European subjects. In explaining Mongoloid cold-adaptiveness, So cites the work of W. L. Hylander (1977) where Hylander said that in the Eskimo (Inuit), for example, the reduction of the brow ridge and flatness of the face are instead due to internal structural configurations that are cold-adapted in the sense that they produce a large vertical bite force necessary to chew frozen seal meat.
As a term for Down syndrome
"Mongoloid" has had a second usage, now generally avoided as highly offensive: until the late 20th century, people with Down syndrome were often referred to as "Mongoloids", or in terms of "Mongolian idiocy" or "Mongolian imbecility". The term was motivated by the observation that people with Down syndrome often have epicanthic folds. Coined in 1908, the term remained in medical usage until the 1950s. In 1961, its use was deprecated by a group of genetic experts in an article in The Lancet due to its "misleading connotations". The term continued to be used as a pejorative in the second half of the 20th century, with shortened versions such as Mong in slang usage.
By the end of the 20th century, the pejorative connotations of the obsolete term for Down syndrome had in turn rubbed off on the term for the racial category. Thus, Chong Yah Lim in 2004 expressed his dislike for the term "Mongoloid" for the broad racial category due to its connotations of "demented physical and mental developments", suggesting the term "East Asian race" as a more "appropriately neutral, modern term".
In 2016, a side event dedicated to World Down Syndrome Day and CSW 60 was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations and the Down Syndrome Association of Mongolia. One of the aims of this side event was to showcase how the term "mongol" and related words, when used in reference to people with Down syndrome, "...affect [the] dignity of people of the mongoloid race..." In 2016, Sükheegiin Sükhbold, the Mongolian permanent representative to the United Nations, held the World Down Syndrome Day event to call for the complete elimination of the improper usage of the term "Mongoloid" in reference to people with Down syndrome.
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- Baum 2006, pp. 84–85 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFBaum2006 (help): "Finally, Christoph Meiners (1747–1810), the University of Göttingen “popular philosopher” and historian, first gave the term Caucasian racial meaning in his Grundriss der Geschichte der Menschheit (Outline of the History of Humanity, 1785)… Meiners pursued this “Göttingen program” of inquiry in extensive historical-anthropological writings, which included two editions of his Outline of the History of Humanity and numerous articles in Göttingisches Historisches Magazin"
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...the five human races identified by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach – Negroes, American Indians, Malaysians, Mongolians, and Caucasians. He chose to rely on Blumenbach, leader of the Göttingen school of comparative anatomy; also at 
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For it was at Gottingen in this period that the outlines of a system of classification were laid down in a manner that still shapes the way in which we attempt to comprehend the different varieties of humankind — including usage of such terms as "Caucasian".
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Here, Blumenbach placed the white European at the apex of the human family; he even gave the European a new name — i.e., Caucasian. This relationship also inspired the academic labors of Karl Otfried Muller, C. Meiners and K.A. Heumann, the more important thinkers at Gottingen for our project. (This list is not intended to be exhaustive).
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It is in the context of the shift to the human as both subject and object that Foucault has placed the "invention" of the human sciences, and it is also in this context that the various human histories as conceived and taught at Gottingen — from the theories of race proposed by Christoph Meiners and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (who would coin the word "Caucasian" in the 1790s) to new theories of history as interpreted by Johann Christoph Gatterer and August Ludwig von Schlozer to a new art history as conceived by Fiorillo — can be considered.
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One of the most enduring schemes of "racial" designation divides the peoples of the world into three large categories crudely conceptualized as ... this scheme was advocated by Georges Cuvier (1769–1832), one of the most influential figures in the history of French science, although it was ...
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Blumenbach’s name has been associated with scientific racism, but his arguments actually undermined racism. Blumenbach could not have foreseen the coming abuse of his ideas and classification in the 19th and (first half of the) 20th centuries.
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Es giebt nur eine Gattung (species) im Menschengeschlecht; und alle uns bekannte Völker aller Zeiten und aller Himmelsstriche können von einer gemeinschaftlichen Stammrasse abstammen.
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Alle diese Verschiedenheiten fließen aber durch so mancherley Abstufungen und Uebergänge so unvermerkt zusammen, daß sich keine andre, als sehr willkürliche Grenzen zwischen ihnen festsetzen lassen.
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- "The importance of this anomaly among Europeans and their descendants is not related to the segregation of genes derived from Asians; its appearance among members of Asian populations suggests such ambiguous designations as 'Mongol Mongoloid'; increasing participation of Chinese and Japanese in investigation of the condition imposes on them the use of an embarrassing term. We urge, therefore, that the expressions which imply a racial aspect of the condition be no longer used. Some of the undersigned are inclined to replace the term Mongolism by such designations as 'Langdon Down Anomaly', or 'Down's Syndrome or Anomaly', or 'Congenital Acromicria'. Several of us believe that this is an appropriate time to introduce the term 'Trisomy 21 Anomaly', which would include cases of simple Trisomy as well as translocations. It is hoped that agreement on a specific phrase will soon crystallise once the term 'Mongolism' has been abandoned." Allen, G. Benda C.J. et al (1961). Lancet corr. 1, 775.
- Clark, Nicola (October 19, 2011). "Ricky Gervais, please stop using the word 'mong'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- Chong Yah Lim. Southeast Asia: The Long Road Ahead. World Scientific, 2004 P. 3. ("A more appropriately neutral, modern term would thus be the East Asian race")
- "Changing stereotypes against people with Down syndrome: THE MEANING OF MONGOL." Permanent Missions. Wayback Machine link.
- Sanders, A.J.K. (2017). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia, Fourth Edition. Lanham, Boulder, New York, London: Rowman & Littlefield. Page 594. Google Books link.