Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Eugenics Review
Volume 21, Number 4 (January 1930)
pages 257–263

Rachel M. Fleming

Political issues involving the right of so-called ‘superior’ races to preserve privileges denied to other races on account of their so-called ‘inferiority’ are tending to darken counsel in the study of racial biology. Another form of political effort is a desire to demonstrate separateness of physical type, so that a subject race may claim autonomy. It is only with painful slowness that man is learning to study himself scientifically and dispassionately, and to apply biological and genetical laws) to his own case. Humanity to-day is the result of long racial crossing; it is difficult to apply the term “pure” to any physical type. All human races are capable of fertile crossing one with another, and man’s tendency to wander both over land and sea, frequently unaccompanied by the women of his own type, has led to marked heterogeneity of inheritance everywhere. The story of the “Sons of God” and the “daughters of men” is world wide and possibly as old as the oldest prehistoric find. And yet in a book published in 1928 we read, “Only a pure race is a strong race”; while the facile statement that the coloured half-caste inherits the worst of both sides, as if the laws of heredity bowed to our colour prejudice, is commonly quoted and believed…


E. Rodenwaldt has therefore rendered a great service to the study of human heredity by seizing the opportunity of examining the results of an experiment in human crossing which has been worked out in Kisar, an island in the East Indies 127°35’E. long., 8°5’S. lat. His results are published in Die Mestizen auf Kisar (in German) in two volumes, one of which gives detailed measurements and photographs of the Mestizos (half-castes) whom he observed. It contains a remarkable family tree showing the very complicated inter-marriages between the descendants of Mestizo families, and also, by an ingenious device, indicating their skin, eye, and hair colour heredity. No student of human heredity can afford to omit the study of these volumes. The Mestizos of Kisar are ideal material for such a study. The Dutch East Company had a station here in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and soldiers of Dutch, French, German, and British nationality became the ancestors of the Mestizos. From 1819 onwards the island was no longer a station for troops, and the half-caste families formed a group which felt itself superior to the natives and tended to inter-marry. Thus we have available for research a sort of natural experiment in human breeding which has gone on for about two centuries…


Recently the writer visited Cape Town and had many conversations with workers among the ‘coloured’ (half-caste) colony there. One worker of long experience had observed the same rule of a higher cultural level and a general demand for better living conditions among those with a large admixture of white blood. He suggested that encouragement of intermixture between the best of the coloured people and the whites would tend to raise the standard of life in Cape Town. Some ‘coloured’ people with a large admixture of white blood showed such small traces of native inheritance that they had “passed over” into the white section and were making good there. Needless to say, this solution is most unpalatable to advocates of  ‘race purity,’ and there may be sound objections to it. On the other hand, it may ultimately be less harmful than the present cruel system of stigmatizing the half-caste socially, and so creating a moral and social environment for him which adds undesirables to the community. For some time past the writer has been in close contact with girls of Anglo-Chinese and Anglo-Negro origin who are unable to find employment because social stigma refuses to allow them to mix in our society in the ordinary way. They are British citizens, and they are the weakest of our citizens, and as such need protection. Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible. Liverpool, always to the fore in attempts towards civic betterment, has formed an “Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children” (Hon. Sec., Mr. G. E. Haynes, B.Sc., University Settlement, Nile Street, Liverpool), and a wholetime research worker [Muriel E. Fletcher] has been appointed. We hope that other seaport towns may soon follow this example of scientific research into a serious problem…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,