Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints

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Isolation by distance models are part of the institutional creed of anti-racialism used to critique claims of biological race concepts. Proponents of anti-racialism appeal to isolation by distance models to describe patterns of human genetic differences among and between groups as a function of distance. Isolation by distance has been referred to as the pattern that human genetic variation fits, distributing the differences we see as race throughout geographic space as a series of Gaussian gradients. Contemporary scientific critiques of biological race concepts fuse social constructionist race concepts with a description of the distribution of proportions of human genetic variation in geographic space as a function of distance. These two points are often followed by statements noting that there is only one human race. How these two concepts connect to one another, and whether or not they connect at all, is unclear in both academic and non-academic spaces. Consequently, scientists and the public lack an understanding of human population structure and its relationships to varying systems of human interactions. In this paper, I review isolation by distance models in population genetics and the use of these models to the modern problem of human difference. Presented is a historical and conceptual review of isolation by distance models and contemporary scientific critiques of biological race concepts, followed by examples of the use of isolation by distance models in studies of human genetic variation. To address the shortcomings in the scientific critique of race, I propose combining Du Boisian demography with Darwinian evolutionary biology. From a Du Boisian demographic perspective, race is a product of racism, what I refer to as race/ism. Race is a heredity and inheritance system based on rules of partus sequitur ventrum and hypodescent. Race marks individuals and groups them to reproduce unequal relationships into which Europeans co-opted them. This synthesis propounds a new racial formation theory to understand the more general consequences of racism on genes and health outcomes.