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Home Sections History The Term “Caucasian” Is a Historical Aberration
The Term “Caucasian” Is a Historical Aberration PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - History
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Friday, 15 January 2010 09:46

 

V ery few people, including academicians, really know the historical development  of "Caucasian" as a synonym for “Europeans and (wrongly for) other lighter-skinned populations,” to lift some words from the Wikipedia. Its use now is a deviation from its ancient meaning. The term’s use now borders on a near anomaly, if not an abnormality. Rev. Fr. Panfilo Gianan, SVD, my high-school mentor in Sorsogon City, Philippines, taught our World-History class in 1961 the meaning of “Caucasian” and how it came about.

 

If a researcher now Googles it, there are many results from an online search. Wiki.answers.com says that “It's from the Caucasus Mountains, which form part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.”

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_origin_of_the_word_'Caucasian

 

On the other hand, Nell Irvin Painter, presents a scholarly history of “Caucasian” – as done at a Yale University symposium. Readers can read Dr. Painter’s presentation at this link,

http://www.yale.edu/glc/events/race/Painter.pdf

 

Dr. Painter titled his work,

"Why White People Are Called 'Caucasian,'"

Once Blumenbach had established the superiority of Caucasians, the term floated away from its geographical origin. Actual Caucasians--the people of the ...

 

The Wikipedia.org has more materials on the Caucasian race, as can be read in this hyperlink,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_race

 

The Wikipedia says, “The term Caucasian race (also Caucasoid) has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the indigenous human populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia.[1] Historically, the term has been used to describe the entire population of these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone. In common use, the term is sometimes restricted to Europeans and other lighter-skinned populations within these areas, and may be considered equivalent to the varying definitions of white people.[2] The term has also sometimes been equated with the lesser known term Europid, or Europoid,[3] although in classification Europeans were considered a sub-branch of Caucasian.[4]

 

“The concept of a Caucasian race is highly controversial today. It is rejected by many academics and political activists who view any system of categorizing humanity based on physical type as an obsolete 19th century racism,[5] and human genome studies have shown that there is no single and simple genetic definition equivalent to ‘Caucasian’.[6] The term continues to be widely used in many scientific and general contexts, usually with its more restricted sense of ‘white’ . . .

 

The Reverend Gianan Version

 

T hen Divine Word High School Rector Panfilo Gianan (pronounced in the Bicol language as “Ya-none”) said that in medieval times, the Caucasus Mountains became the boundary between Europe and Asia. Viewed from its southern end, all areas west of the Caucasus was the European continent and to its east was Asia. Father Gianan said that areas that lay east of the Caucasus Mountains were then subdivided into the Near East (the countries east of Russia that belonged then to the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics), the Middle East (Saudi Arabian and the Arab world) and the Far East.

 

Father Gianan (now deceased) hailed from the Island of Catanduanes in the Bicol Region (southern end of Luzon). He is buried at the grounds of the Christ the King Seminary of the SVD Fathers in Quezon City, Philippines.

 

The SVD priest said further that the Far East (or Asia) was subdivided into Northeast Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Russia’s Siberia) and Southeast Asia (now composed of the Association of Southeast-Asian Nations or ASEAN). He said that to some mapmakers, Northeast Asia became “Asia Major” and the rest of Southeast Asia as “Asia Minor.”

 

Our then high-school mentor said finally that it was certainly historically right to use “Caucasian” as a synonym for “European” but wrong to mean white- or light-skinned people. Because he said that there were/are Europeans who are not light-skinned individuals, especially those who live in some islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

 

E ditor’s Note: Father Gianan did not live long enough to know that now more-than a thousand Filipino brides get married every year to Germans and many-more Filipinos get married to Europeans, as per these articles:

 

The EuroFilipinos and the MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration

 

The Latest Data from Migration Policy Institute on Intermarriages in Germany

 

How Filipino Brides Are Changing the DNA of Several Nationalities and Also the Filipino

 

Filipinos Are Indeed the Italians of Asia (Part 8 of the "Filipino Psyche" Series)

 

How Europe Was Further Divided and Subdivided

 

T hen Father Gianan explained to our class how in turn Europe became divided into the White-Anglo-Saxon, the Aryan Race of the Nazi Germany, the Latinos (Italy and Spain), the Greeks, the Scandinavian and the Slavs, among other groupings. He said that even the Catholic Church got divided into a Western wing (the Roman Catholic Church) and the Eastern Wing called the Orthodox Church (from Greece all the way to Russia). And soon the White-Anglo Saxons became the White-Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP).

 

We never asked the sources of our high-school rector’s lectures on history for we presumed that he spoke with authority. But nearly five decades later, this writer believes that Father Gianan’s version of how “Caucasian” came to be coined is the most-historically sound explanation, if not the most-accurate version, of all position papers on the "Caucasian" topic. # # #

 

 



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Last Updated on Friday, 15 January 2010 10:42
 

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