Have we gone beyond race? Many argue society has now overcome centuries of strife to become "post-racial" - a moment that law professor Sumi Cho of DePaul University in Chicago refers to as "the end of race history".

Two seemingly disparate developments have been used to lend support to this claim. In politics, Barack Obama's 2008 election as the first racial minority-member to become US president has been lauded as a racially transcendent moment. In science, the completion of the Human Genome Project's first draft in June 2000 offered seemingly definitive evidence that race is not real. As geneticist Craig Venter noted at the HGP announcement, "the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis".

Yet this supposed new era of race relations met a backlash on two fronts. The political dimension has been widely publicised; President Obama's first term has been distinguished by elements of hatred and disrespect unquestionably coloured by race.

Another, less well-known dimension has roots within the scientific community. Despite pronouncements that race is genetically meaningless, some researchers insist that there are natural divisions between... see more