On the Phenomena of Hybridity in the Genus Homo

On the Phenomena of Hybridity in the Genus Homo

Published for the Anthropological Society, by Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts (London)
144 pages
Scan Date/Time: 2007-12-04 21:43:57

Dr. Paul Broca 1824-1880, Secretary General
Anthropological Society of Paris
(Also Honorary Fellow, Anthropological Society of London)

Edited by C. Carter Blake, F.G.S., F.A.S.L, Honorary Secretary,
Antrhopological Society of London


  • Dedication
  • Editor’s Preface
  • Glossarial Note
    • General remarks on the interbreeding of human races
    • Pretended examples of hybrid races (note on the Griquas of Southern Africa)
    • Significations of the words race and type
    • On Eugenesic Hybridity in the Genus Homo
    • Examples tending to prove that the interbreeding of certain human races is not Eugenesic
    • Remarks on the interpretation of human hybridity
    • Relative infecundity of the interbreeds between the White and Negro
    • Relative sterility of some Mulattoes in the first generation
    • Moral or physical inferiority of some Mulattoes
    • Malay and mixed breeds
    • Relative sterility of the interbreeds between the Europeans and the Australians or Tasmanians
    • Observations of Count Strzelecki; discission
    • Conclusions on human hybridity
    • Recapitulation and Conclusion

That very ingenious writer, M. A. de Gobineau, whose efforts have been directed towards bringing the light of modern ethnology to bear upon the political and social history of nations, but who, in this very difficult and almost entirely now inquiry, has more than once indulged in paradoxical generalisations, has thought proper to affirm, in his Essay on the Inequality of Human Races (1855), that the crossing of races constantly produces disastrous effects, and that, sooner or later, a physical and moral degeneration is the inevitable result thereof. It is, therefore, chiefly to this cause that he attributes the decline of the Roman Republic and the downfall of liberty, which was soon followed by the decline of civilisation. I am very far from sharing his opinion, and, were this the proper place, I might show that the social corruption and the intellectual degradation which prepared the ruin of the Roman power was due to quite different causes. M. Grobineau’s proposition appears to me by far too general; and I am still more opposed to the opinion of those who advance that every mixed race separated from the parent stocks is incapable of perpetuation. It has even been asserted that the United States of America, where the Anglo-Saxon race is still predominant, but which is overrun by immigrants of various other races, is, by that very circumstance, threatened with decay, inasmuch as this continuous immigration may have the effect of producing a hybrid race containing the germ of future sterility. Do we not know that, on tho faith of this prognostication, a certain party has proposed the restriction of foreign immigration, and even in England there have been serious men who have predicted, from ethnological causes, the overthrow of the United States, just as Ezekiel predicted the ruin of Alexandria.

When we see the prosperity and the power of the new continent grow with such unexampled rapidity, we can certainly put no faith in such a prediction. Still there must have been a certain number of fundamental facts, which led even monogenists to deny the viability of all crossed races. They must have sought in vain among the nations of the earth for a race manifestly hybrid, with well-defined characters, intermediate between two known races, perpetuating itself without the concurrence of the parent races.

“When the facts quoted above,” says M. Georges Pouchet, “are not sufficient to prove that a mongrel breed cannot be engendered, can we anywhere find one ? Do we find a people conserving a medium type between two other types ? We see them nowhere just as little as we see a race of mules. The fact is, that such a race, such a type can only have an ephemeral subjective existence.”

The question, where do we find hybrid races subsisting by themselves, has been asked before M. Pouchet. Dr. Prichard, in replying to it, could only find throe instances:—1. The Griquas, the progeny of the Hottentots and the Dutch. 2. The Cafusos of the forests of Varama (Brazil) a race described by Spix and Martius, and, according to them, the offspring of indigenous Americans and African Negroes. 3. The mopheaded Papuans inhabiting the island of Waigion and the surrounding islands and the northern part of New Guinea, and who, according to MM. Quoy and Gaimard, are a hybrid race, the issue of a union of Malays and the Papuans proper.

These three examples have been objected to, and are indeed liable to objections. We know next to nothing about the Cafusos, and no one can positively assert that they have remained unmixed with the indigenous race ; but we know for certain that the Griquas have risen since the commencement of this century around a Protestant mission, by the fusion of some Dutch-Hottentot bastaard families with a large number of the Hottentot race, the Bosjesmen, and the Kaffir race. This example then proves, by no means, that a mixed race can perpetuate itself separately…

…If, indeed, it were true that there are only five races of men on the globe, and if it were capable of demonstration that either of them, in mixing with another, produced eugenesic Mulattos capable of constituting a mixed race enduring by itself, without the ulterior concurrence of the parent races, the embarrassment would not yet be at an end. After having succeeded to establish such a demonstration for two of the chief races, it would by no means necessarily result that the intercrossings of the nine other combinations are eugenesic like the first. We should then be obliged to prove (what is evidently impracticable), by ten successive examples, that the ten possible intercrossings between the five fundamental races are all equally and completely prolific.  The difficulty is such, that Dr. Prichard, after much research, could only find the three instances already cited and refuted. These facts having proved inconclusive, and other facts which we shall mention presently having induced the theory that certain intermixtures are imperfectly prolific, the pentagenists were led to the opinion that the possibility of a definitive intermixture of races is by no means established, and that, on the contrary, this possibility may be denied.

The pentagenists occupied themselves at first chiefly with the intermixture of the five chief races; but even from this point of view, and taking the term race in a general sense, their negation, though, it must be admitted, far from being justifiable, is still founded upon a more solid basis, and less removed from the truth than the opposed affirmation. Hence it was considered valuable ad interim. But the principle of non-intermixture of races being once promulgated, the confusion of terms soon became apparent. The negation which was at first applied merely to the artificial groups formed by the re-union of races of the same type was applied to natural races, and thus arose that frightful proposition, that no mixed races can subsist in humanity

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