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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

How to represent

Frankly, I didn't know that US census has been conducted for allocating political power in the way of apportioning electoral college. Also, while reading Anderson and Fienberg's book, I came to know that classification of race and ethnicity in the census reflects the history of discrimination. In addition, it was quite suprised that even a scientific way of representing the population such as sampling can not be accpeted to improve census method due to political reason. However, it is understandable because I think that politics always preoccupy the dominance over other values in the world. (Recently, I am intrigued by conspiracy thoery.^^)

In this reading, I see how ironic it is to represent people according to physical differences in quantitative way. How can we define people who are racially mixed? Are they also minorities? If we need to classify the increasing population of racially mixed people, how many categories are we going to need? Does it really matter to have the categories in this racially diverse society? I don't have any answer, but I'd like to raise those questions.

Because I lived in S. Korean for the most of my life, racial discrimination was not my concern. Rather, Korea has geographical discrimination. Since I was born in the south eastern part of Korea, which has been discriminated for political reason, I felt inequality at that time. Looking back into my life, I think that both racial and geographical discrimination is matter of human right.

I think that any kind of discrimination exists all over the places. Human beings are very often exclusive. We distinquish ourselves from others. So, the ways of discriminating are very diverse. Sometimes, it pretends to be scientific. This reading seems to point out that we don't have to relie too much on technical objectivity and scientific ways because the most important thing is to have righteous value.


At 11:23 AM, Blogger salim said...

Both Nick and you have commented on the role of geography. In India too, there is immense discrimination based on region and state that one is from. So even if you were Indian, you could be considered a second class citizen, depending on where you are. I bet GIS has a role to play in the census to further inform the book.

Race and ethnicity matter because they are often what puts people into different groups, socially and politically. Because of the US history in the treatment of non-whites, there is the general interest of "righting" the unfairness that they accorded in history (and that is currently happening right now in subtle ways, and depending on geography, quite overt). I do agree with you that racial mixing is going to make it harder and harder to keep track of mixed-race populations...

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Nick said...

Coming from a pessemistic humanist perspective, Umaysay may have a point that humans are an exclusive bunch. It unfortunately seems that "othering," or categorizing groups of humans is something that humanity does quite well. As he pointed out, it may be by physical appearance, language, or place of residence that determines a group's otherness. I wonder sometimes why CAN'T we all just get along? Is there something fundamentally human that propels us to instantly recognize difference and then proceed to add value to that difference? Recognizing difference is probably not something that will go away soon, a reason that I firmly dislike the "colorblind" approach to racism that luckily seems to be fading. Of course I see color! It's a falsehood to say otherwise. What we need to do is learn how to deal with difference after we have recognized it in a non-harmful way.


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