Mongoloid (//) is an racial grouping or genus of various people indigenous to large parts of Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas. In the past, other terms such as "Mongolian race", "yellow", "Asiatic" and "Oriental" have been used as synonyms.
The concept of dividing humankind into three races called Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid was introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History and further developed by Western scholars in the context of "racist ideologies" during the age of colonialism. With the rise of modern genetics, the concept of distinct human races in a biological sense has become obsolete. In 2019, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists stated: "The belief in 'races' as natural aspects of human biology, and the structures of inequality (racism) that emerge from such beliefs, are among the most damaging elements in the human experience both today and in the past."
The term Mongoloid has had a second usage referencing people with 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.
Commenting on the situation of the United States in the early 20th century, Leonard Lieberman said that the notion of the whole world being composed of three distinct races, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid, seemed credible because of the history of immigration to the United States with most immigrants coming from three areas, Southeast China, Northwest Europe, and West Africa. This made the point of view of three races appear to be "true, natural, and inescapable."
In 1950, UNESCO published their statement The Race Question. It condemned all forms of racism, naming "the doctrine of inequality of men and races":1 among the causes of World War II and proposing to replace the term "race" with "ethnic groups" because "serious errors ... are habitually committed when the term 'race' is used in popular parlance".:6
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.
Coon's Origin of Races
American anthropologist Carleton S. Coon published his much debated:248 Origin of Races in 1962. Coon divided the species Homo sapiens into five groups: Besides the Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Australoid races, he posited two races among the indigenous populations of sub-Saharan Africa: The Capoid race in the south and the Congoid race.
Coon's thesis was that Homo erectus had already been divided into five different races or subspecies. "Homo Erectus then evolved into Homo Sapiens not once but five times, as each subspecies, living in its own territory, passed a critical threshold from a more brutal to a more sapient state."
Since Coon followed the traditional methods of physical anthropology, relying on morphological characteristics, and not on the emerging genetics to classify humans, the debate over Origin of Races has been "viewed as the last gasp of an outdated scientific methodology that was soon to be supplanted.":249
Disproof by modern genetics
With the availability of new data due to the development of modern genetics, the concept of races in a biological sense has become untenable. Problems of the concept include: It "is not useful or necessary in research", scientists are not able to agree on the definition of a certain proposed race, and they do not even agree on the number of races, with some proponents of the concept suggesting 300 or even more "races". Also, data are not reconcilable with the concept of a treelike evolution nor with the concept of "biologically discrete, isolated, or static" populations.
Current scientific consensus
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
The last edition of the German encyclopedia Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1971–79, 25 volumes) lists the following characteristics of the "Mongoloid" populations of Asia: "Flat face with a low nasal root, accentuated zygomatic arches, flat-lying eyelids (which are often slanting), thick, tight, dark hair, dark eyes, yellow-brownish skin, usually short, stocky build."
In 2004, British anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson gave a description of "Mongoloid" skulls in her book on forensic facial reconstruction: "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 1950, Carleton S. Coon, Stanley M. Garn, and Joseph B. Birdsell proposed that the relative flatness of "Mongoloid" faces was caused by adaption to the extreme cold of subarctic and arctic conditions.:132:66 They supposed that "Mongoloid" eye sockets have been extended vertically to make room for adipose tissue around the eyeballs, and that the "reduced" brow ridges decrease the size of the air spaces inside of the brow ridges known as the frontal sinuses which are "vulnerable" to the cold. They also supposed 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.
Still, in 1965 a study by A. T. Steegmann showed that the so-called cold-adapted Mongoloid face provided no greater protection against frostbite than the facial structure of Europeans.:66
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."
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.
In the 21st century this usage of the term is deemed "unacceptable" in the English-speaking world and has fallen out of common use because of its offensive and misleading implications about those with the disorder. The terminology change was brought about both by scientific and medical experts as well as people of Asian ancestry, including those from Mongolia.
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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.
- Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1797). Handbuch der Naturgeschichte. p. 60. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
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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- Cited according to Jackson Jr., John (June 2001). ""In Ways Unacademical": The Reception of Carleton S. Coon's The Origin of Races". Journal of the History of Biology. 34 (2): 248. doi:10.1023/A:1010366015968. JSTOR 4331661. S2CID 86739986. The reference given there is to "Coon, Origin of the [sic] Races, 1963 [sic], p. 657".
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- "It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant... they graduate into each other, and.. it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them... As it is improbable that the numerous and unimportant points of resemblance between the several races of man in bodily structure and mental faculties (I do not here refer to similar customs) should all have been independently acquired, they must have been inherited from progenitors who had these same characters.", Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man p. 225 onwards
- "Indeed, if a species has sufficient gene flow, there can be no evolutionary tree of populations, because there are no population splits...", Templeton, A. (2016). EVOLUTION AND NOTIONS OF HUMAN RACE. In Losos J. & Lenski R. (Eds.), How Evolution Shapes Our Lives: Essays on Biology and Society (p. 355). Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv7h0s6j.26.
- Templeton, A. (2016). EVOLUTION AND NOTIONS OF HUMAN RACE. In Losos J. & Lenski R. (Eds.), How Evolution Shapes Our Lives: Essays on Biology and Society (pp. 346–361). Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv7h0s6j.26. That this view reflects the consensus among American anthropologists is stated in: Wagner, Jennifer K.; Yu, Joon-Ho; Ifekwunigwe, Jayne O.; Harrell, Tanya M.; Bamshad, Michael J.; Royal, Charmaine D. (February 2017). "Anthropologists' views on race, ancestry, and genetics". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 162 (2): 318–327. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23120. PMC 5299519. PMID 27874171. See also: American Association of Physical Anthropologists (27 March 2019). "AAPA Statement on Race and Racism". American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
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flaches Gesicht mit niedriger Nasenwurzel, betonte Jochbogen, flachliegende Lidspalte (die oft schräggestellt ist), dickes, straffes, dunkles Haar, dunkle Augen, gelbbräunl. Haut, in der Regel kurzer, untersetzter Wuchs
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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.
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- The dictionary definition of mongoloid at Wiktionary