Chapter IX


Celebration and Conclusion

At a particular time between the last lecture and the final exam, the Russian Coup occurred, almost as though it carefully had been planned. Professor Lamberg-Karlovsky was in Moscow while Alexeev was in Cambridge; Alexeev was in telephone communication with his wife, Tatiana, also in Moscow. He has a television set up at 102 Quincy House and was able to keep his wife informed of the US news coverage of the coup; she apparently was receiving very little information.

As I recall Alexeev's story . . . Tatiana was first to suspect that something was not right. While driving past the Kremlin, she noticed tanks lined up behind the walls. Rushing back to her Moscow apartment, she immediately telephoned Alexeev in Cambridge and both of them knew they must devise a plan to get LK out of the Soviet Union, and quickly! Tatiana was successful in locating a car, driver, and the back road to the airport. Knowing that time was of the essence, she and the driver loaded LK and baggage into the car, calmly yet carefully drove through Red Square, and proceeded to the airport road just as the tanks were beginning to assemble. "The sight of these tanks is so palpable" commented LK upon viewing them from the rear window as the car and its passengers sped on to the airport. American dollars helped book LK passage on the last flight from the Soviet Union. Tatiana, on the tarmac, waved good bye to her husband's American colleague, and LK wished Tat'ya hope and courage as his flight took off on the eve of an ominous historical event.

Back in Cambridge ... I had heard of the coup on late night television news and continued to follow the events in Moscow throughout the night. As well, a severe hurricane was being predicted for the Boston area and a hurricane alert was in effect. At a decent hour in the early morning I telephoned Alexeev and we chatted briefly. He first informed me that LK had landed safely in Boston, then he said he was greatly concerned for his wife's safety, and that although he was expected to be strong and brave, at the present moment he was very frightened. I asked him if the impending hurricane also alarmed him; he said that he'd lived through many hurricanes.

On the day of our oral exam, everyone was jubilant; the coup had been successful, Communism was dead, and the hopes that Democracy carries with it were shouted about in Moscow and 102 Quincy House. After the exam, Alexeev asked all of us to join him for coffee and conversation. We sat around his long table taking our coffee in institution style cups; Alexeev took his in a china cup with saucer. And we made plans to celebrate independence and the rebirth of Russia.

The date was set; celebration was to begin on Saturday at 3 p.m. And so it did! We picked Alexeev up at Quincy House and drove to Boston, to the waterfront, past the Old State House, to Faneuil Hall and to Durgin Park, one of the oldest restaurants in Boston.

The setting was perfect. We dined alongside strangers at long tables, clatter from the kitchen was not silenced, and scurrilous waitresses barked our orders as we selected from a menu of New England favorites. I have forgotten what we ordered, but not what we helped order for Alexeev. We found for him the largest tenderloin I have ever seen, potatoes french fried, and baked beans, corn bread, etc. We toasted "nasdrovya"; Alexeev corrected us: "a vasa drovya" and strangers in the dining room began toasting as well. By the time Indian pudding and coffee had arrived, the dining room had become roaringly boisterous and Alexeev was fielding questions not only from us but from strangers as well. One female New Englander grabbed my arm and said: "Ask the professor where are the Kennedys and Rockefellers in Russia". Alexeev's answer: "In the black market".

After dinner, we strolled through Quincy Market, not the usual stroll, but rather we'd walk a short while and then Alexeev would stop and begin lecturing about an assortment of things such as the environment, Chernobyl, the economy, the black market, Russian bread etc while small crowds would stop and listen. We took Alexeev to "Sharper Image" to show him all the important gadgets he now could purchase such as a solid gold razor, a lounge chair with a built-in stereo system, an electronic mouse detractor etc. We walked through the Busta Monte gallery where paper mache figures sold for $5,000 - $10,000, and we passed a luggage shop where Alexeev pointed out a globe and checked to see if the portrayal of Eurasia was accurate; it was not.

Nightfall arrived too quickly. We hurried to the automobile and then drove by the Boston Tea Party ship and toured the North End with its narrow cobbled streets filled with happy tourists. We passed the Old North Church: "listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. On the eighteenth of April in '75, hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year". We then drove by the Paul Revere House and down Hanover Street which was still dressed with festive lights; remnants of a previous Italian festival.

We followed the Charles River back to Cambridge and to Quincy House. "You will come in and join me for a drink" said Alexeev. We replied that we would. And we chatted and talked about many places and things. We heard about a tribal king in New Guinea who served caterpillars for dinner. Do you know how to eat a caterpillar? Delicately one by one. We heard about eating whale and dolphin - they both taste fishy! And Alexeev gave us tips for survival in the field: always write notes when waiting for the vehicle; don't sit and stare! He showed us his notes in progress; they were written with a strong hand and were tiny in character, carefully formed, and written without leaving margins, either top/bottom or left/right. He also showed us a scar from Viet Nam - it was close to his eye and was gotten from a tree branch that had bounced back as he fought the jungle bush.

We talked about archaeologists: "he wrote about us but never met us; I do not agree with his work, but it is important; such presence; he's a racist; she's an old lady". And when we looked at our watches it was one o'clock in the morning. The weather was quite pleasant at this hour and Alexeev walked us to the car. We wanted to talk about our projects; could we call on Monday; when was he returning to Moscow?

We call on Monday but no one answered.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of editing the Alexeev lectures has been the emergence of the beginnings of a treatise on "race". I find it necessary to point out that in my country, the study of a particular "race" has not been deemed politically correct for anyone other than a member of that "race". For example, the only people who legitimately can study the Black or African-American groups and their history are members of that group. And being a member is determined by skin color, African heritage, and affirmative action classification; to these people, "race" matters. This also holds true for gender studies. Women somehow have been deemed the only people qualified to partake in Women Studies; however, women as a "race" has been acknowledged as early as the late 1500's by E. Spenser in "Faerie Queene". A similar phenomenon is operational in Jewish Studies. HOLLIS no longer recognizes the heading "Jewish race"; the term Jewish identity instead has been substituted. However, a kw command for Jewish race" retrieves 104 items. And what of the Mongoloid "race"? HOLLIS has recently added Mongoloid to the category of "race" and to date the heading contains six references, five of which have been published since 1992. Recent archaeological evidence presented by Victor Mair label mummies discovered in the Xingjiang region of China as belonging to the "Caucasian race"; however, as per Alexeev and Arutiunov, there is no evidence to suggest a "Caucasian race". And I've been searching the archaeological record for skeletal evidence which clearly denotes Mongolian, and I still have been unable to find any. Alexeev did mention the Cranial Index which places a numerical designation on the breadth of the skull in comparison to its length i.e. brachycrans and dolicocrans, however this evidence is no longer considered scientifically reliable because the range is so great. As well, there is no guarantee that the "evidence" is completely under the control of biological inheritance; variations can be due to short term response to environmental changes.

What then is a "race"? Alexeev, in his earlier work divided the "races" of world into three great groups: Europoid or white, Mongoloid or yellow, and Equatorial or black Africans, Negritos of Andamans and other southeast Asian islands, Papuans, Australians etc. Arutiunov, on the other hand, sees four "races" of the first order: Mongoloid, Europoid, Africanoid, and Australoid. HOLLIS has no difficulty with "race" and lists a Caucasian race, a Black race, and a Mongolian race.

Since I needed further information on "race", I decide to consult the Oxford English Dictionary for the etymology of the word. The following are different meanings for the word "race": [The first entry on race is ON (Norw. and Sw. dial), running, race, rush (of water), course, channel, row, series = OE of obscure etym. orig. a northern word, coming into general use about the middle of the 16th c.]

  1. The act of running; a run;

  2. Onward movement of a thing, as the heavenly bodies, a vehicle etc., running or rush of water;

  3. As a portion of time or space;

  4. The act of running, riding, sailing, etc. in competition ;

  5. In combined forms: race-boat, -colt, driver, -dust, fund, -ground, list, -manager, mare, -meeting, -nag, night, record, report, -rider, -riding, -runner, -time, -week, -winner.

[The second listing for race is with an etymology of obscure origin]

I.  A group of persons, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin;

[In the widest sense the term includes all descendants from the original stock, but may also be limited to a single line of descent or to the group as it exists at a particular period]

II. A group or class of persons, animals, or things, having some common feature or features.

The third entry on race references a cut, slit, mark, scratch.

Entry four on race: the heart, liver, and lungs, esp. of a calf.

Entry five on race: A (white) mark doen the face of a horse (or dog).

Entry six on race references a root of ginger.

Entry seven on race: a calcareous concretion found in nodules in brick-clay.

Entry eight on race:

  1. Of ships: lying low in the water.

  2. Of measure: bare, without addition.

Entry nine on race:

  1. intr. To run a race (with), to compete (with) in speed.

  2. intr. To run, ride, sail, etc. swiftly.

  3. trans. To race with; to try to beat in running.

  4. To cause to move swiftly or to make rapid progress; to cause to run a race or races.

    1. to race away; to lose by racing.

    2. to convey swiftly.

    3. to cause (an engine) to race; to 'rev'.

    4. to race off; to seduce (a woman); to hurry (a women) away in order to seduce her. Austral. slang.

  5. To suspend (a wheel, grindstone, etc.) in the proper position for running.

Entry ten on race: Of a parent bird, to impart its nature to its offspring.

Entry eleven on race:

  1. trans. To scratch or tear with something sharp; to cut or slash.

  2. intr. To cut a way; to pierce, penetrate.

  3. trans. To scrape out, erase.

  4. To alter (a writing) by erasure.

  5. To level with the ground; to raze.

Entry twelve on race: to tear, snatch, pluck "off, away, from, out, down, up"; to root out.

In concluding this section on the etymology of the word race, I can observe the following: of the twelve entries on race, only a portion of entry #2 references a tribe, nation, or people of common stock. Literary sources in the 17th century list-- the British race; sources in the !8th century mention the Tartar race and the Oriental race; 19th century listings include Egyptian and Syro-Arabian race, Hellen race, and German race while Hulme in 1861 lists five races: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malay; it is in the 20th century that references include colored men, niggers, Japan and its immigration, Jewish race, race music, race theory and a "race man" who is somebody who always keeps the glory and honor of his race before him.

In the 1970's we have "race" defined by R.M. & F.M. Keesing as having a straight forward and important meaning in evolutionary biology. In this physical or biological sense, Alexeev and Arutiunov also have a use for the term "race" and thereby divide the human population into three or four different groupings. However, recent work in evolutionary biology, most specifically in genetics, offers reasonably concise proof that "race" is nonexistent. Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, and Piazza in "The History and Geography of Human Genes , 24 6 clearly state that:

"From a scientific point of view, the concept of race has failed to obtain any consensus; none is likely, given the gradual variation in existence ... The major stereotypes, all based on skin color, hair color and form, and facial traits, reflect superficial differences that are not confirmed by deeper analysis with more reliable genetic traits ... By means of painstaking multivariate analysis, we can identify "clusters" of populations and order them in a hierarchy that we believe represents the history of fissions in the expansion to the whole world of anatomically modern humans. At no level can clusters be identified with races, since every level of clustering would determine a different partition and there is no biological reason to prefer a particular one.

The word "race" is coupled in many parts of the world and strata of society with considerable prejudice, misunderstanding, and social problems. Xenophobia, political convenience, and a variety of motives totally unconnected with science are the basis of racism, the belief that some races are biologically superior to the others and that they have therefore an inherent right to dominate. Racism has existed from time immemorial but only in the nineteenth century were there attempts to justify it on the basis of scientific arguments.

... Not surprisingly, racism is often coupled with caste prejudice and has been invoked as motivation for condoning slavery, or even genocide. There is no scientific basis to the belief of genetically determined "superiority" of one population over another. None of the genes that we consider have any accepted connection with behavioral traits, the genetic determination of which is extremely difficult to study and presently based on soft evidence. The claims of a genetic basis for a general superiority of one population over another are not supported by any of our findings. Superiority is a political and socioeconomic concept, tied to events of recent political, military, and economic history and to cultural traditions of countries or groups. This superiority is rapidly transient, as history shows, whereas the average genotype does not change rapidly. But racial prejudice has an old tradition of its own and is not easy to eradicate".

It is my opinion that the word "race" is a pejorative term used by members of a group who have an agenda to foster the glory and honor of their particular group at the expense of others. Neither ethnographic evidence from archaeology, nor historical etymology of the word "race", nor genetic tracings based on gene frequencies substantiate the concept of different races of mankind.

In reconstructing the ethnographic picture for Eurasia based on language and people dating from an unknown time in the past to the present (usually referred to as a time immediately before Columbus) is a formidable task and my only conclusion after attempting this exercise is that both people and language are fluid. Most population groups are not endogamous; the early migrations such as the Huns or Mongols were constantly acquiring new additions such as mercenaries, prisoners, women etc. and were in continuous motion. Many, or perhaps most, people speak more than one language and as new people are added to the group, others leave to marry into another tribe, to establish a new tribe, or simply to die. As well, written documentation for these early groups is suspect if for no reason other than the results of the ethnocentrism of its author(s). Religion, a very important source of bonding, has not been factored into the ethnographic picture and likely the ability to do so is impossible since people on their own accord can change their belief system. And in this time period reaching back to the III millennium BC to present, numerous diasporas have occurred scattering ethnic groups on all continents around the world.

In conclusion, from an anthropological perspective, to search for onee's homeland appears to be a futile process; to attempt to prove its location based on archaeology is simply ludicrous. Based on genetics, ethnology, linguistics, and etymology, "races of mankind" is an obsolete concept. Rather, each of us is an ethnic mosaic of genetic factors as well as of religion, nation, and class. Today our new global society has some very serious choices to make. Do we create new groups based on religion, class, or genetic factors, or do we accept the mosaic ethnicity of our ancestors and ourselves. During the last few years, our world has rapidly become a different place in which groups have formed according to differences and have broken from a centralized body of mankind into tiny pockets of tribes each living in a different valley. This is quite a devolution from civilization. For all of us to live peacefully together is in fact an impossibility; however, what other choices do we have? The only alternative to peace is no peace and anarchy on any scale is both barbaric and inhuman.

Arutiunov arrives in DC in June, 1996 which should coincide with the Russian elections. Possibly another celebration will be in order. Then Clinton, Major, Chirac, Kohl, Mubarick, Peres Arafat, Assad et al can join with Yeltzin in the very early attempts at solidifying a world peace. It's the politically correct thing to do.