Caucasian race

The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid[lower-alpha 1] or Europid)[2] is an obsolete racial classification of human beings based on a now-disproven theory of biological race.[3][4][5] The Caucasian race was historically regarded as a biological taxon which, depending on which of the historical race classifications was being used, usually included ancient and modern populations from all or parts of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.[6][7]

First introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen school of history,[lower-alpha 2] the term denoted one of three purported major races of humankind (those three being Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid).[12] In biological anthropology, Caucasoid has been used as an umbrella term for phenotypically similar groups from these different regions, with a focus on skeletal anatomy, and especially cranial morphology, without regard to skin tone.[13] Ancient and modern "Caucasoid" populations were thus not exclusively "white", but ranged in complexion from white-skinned to dark brown.[14]

Since the second half of the 20th century, physical anthropologists have moved away from a typological understanding of human biological diversity towards a genomic and population-based perspective, and have tended to understand race as a social classification of humans based on phenotype and ancestry as well as cultural factors, as the concept is also understood in the social sciences.[15]

In the United States, the root term Caucasian is still in use as a synonym for white or of European, Middle Eastern, or North African ancestry,[16][17][18] a usage that has been criticized.[19][20][21]