Sport, Race, and Politics: Taboo and the Reception of Discourse on the Athletic Abilities of Races in the United States

Sport, Performance, and Society
By Nicolas Martin-Breteau

This paper examines the reception and the controversy surrounding the publication in the United States of Jon Entine's book, Taboo. According to the book, human races differ from an athletic point of view because they are “naturally” unequal in terms of physical “abilities”. The study of the contrasted reception of Entine's book, stretching from warm endorsement to absolute rejection, highlights the permanence of the question of racial differences in the U. S., and poses the problem of the use of science as a legitimate means to promote political ends and freedom of speech in the academic field. This paper also highlights the lasting interest of the general public for the supposed social and political implications of genetic research results. Last but not least, this study is one measure of the challenges facing natural and social sciences concerning the delimitation of their field of academic expertise.


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