Interracial Marriages among Asian Americans in the U.S. West, 1880-1954

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-06-25 01:40Z by Steven

Interracial Marriages among Asian Americans in the U.S. West, 1880-1954

University of Florida
257 pages

Eunhye Kwon

A dissertation presented to the graduate school of the University of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

My work is about the first two generations of Chinese and Japanese Americans who married whites in the U.S. West between 1880 and 1954. It was a time when interracial marriage was illegal in most of the states. From two major archival sources—the Survey of Race Relations, 1924–1927, and records about Japanese American internees during World War II—, my work finds that more than two hundred Chinese and Japanese Americans and their white spouses could circumvent miscegenation laws and lived as legally married couples in the U.S. West before the 1950s.

Existing scholarship on the history of miscegenation laws has revealed the role of the laws in making racial categories and stigmatizing interracial intimacy between non-white men and white women. My work shows that marriages between white women and Chinese and/or Japanese men were major targets of racist and misogynist assumptions about interracial intimacy in the U.S. West. Such marriages were further marginalized by federal government’s policies on Asian exclusion and on the mixed marriage families during the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. Government policies upheld a white male citizen’s ability to assimilate his Asian wife and his patriarchal prerogative to his interracial family. The same government policies persistently denied the claims of white women married to Chinese and/or Japanese men that they, as wives and mothers, were assimilating agents in their interracial families.

My work uncovers the history of a small but significant number of interracial couples consisting of Chinese and/or Japanese husbands and white wives, who argued against the negative construction of their interracial marriages. My work also notes the emergence of a cultural pluralist defense of interracial marriage between non-white men and white women by progressive intellectuals such as Franz Boas, W.E.B. Du Bois, Sidney Gulick, and Robert Park in the early twentieth century. White women married to Chinese and/or Japanese men claimed that their interracial families were legitimate American families decades before postwar American liberals began to openly support interracial marriage.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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The Real Race Problem

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2017-12-30 03:42Z by Steven

The Real Race Problem

The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races [Source: The Modernist Journals Project: a joint project of Brown University and University of Tulsa]
Volume 1, Number 2, December 1910
pages 22-25

Franz Boas, Professor of Anthropology
Columbia University, New York, New York

[Professor Franz Boas, who writes the leading article this month, is a member of the Department of Anthropology in Columbia University. The editor of Science reports that the leading scientists of America regard this department of Columbia as the strongest in the country. This gives a peculiar weight to Dr. Boas’ words, which were first delivered at the Second National Negro Conference in May, 1910.]

The essential problem before us is founded on the presence of two entirely distinct human types in the same community, and relates to the best possible correlation of the activities of these two types. On the whole, the answer to this problem has been based on the assumption of the superiority of the one type and the inferiority of the other. The first question to be answered by scientific investigation is, in how far the Negro type may be considered the inferior, the white type as the superior.


The anthropologist recognizes that the Negro and the white represent the two most divergent types of mankind. The differences in color, form of hair, form of face, are known to all of us. Other differences, better known to anthropologists, are those in the proportions of the limbs and of the trunk of the body, and in the size of the brain.

When we consider inferiority and superiority from a general biological point of view, it must be interpreted as meaning that one type is nearer to certain ancestral forms than another. In this sense, the anthropologist must say that in certain respects the Negro resembles the hypothetical ancestral forms of man more than does the European; while in other respects the European shows greater similarity to the supposed ancestral form. Among the Negro race it is particularly the form of the face that reminds us of the ancestral forms of man, while in regard to the proportions of the body, and particularly the length of the limbs, the Negro is more remote from ancestral forms than is the European.

On the whole, the morphological characteristics of the two races show rather a specialized development in different directions than a higher development in the one race as compared with the other.

Ordinarily, however, the question of inferiority and superiority is formulated in a different manner, based essentially on the capacity of mental achievement; and much stress is laid on two points—the lesser size of the brain of the Negro, and the supposed shortness of the period of development of the Negro child.


It is true that the average size of the Negro brain is slightly smaller than the average size of the brain of the white race; but it must be borne in mind that a wide range of brain-forms and brain-sizes occur among the white race, beginning with very small brains and extending to very large ones; that the same is true of the Negro race, and that the difference between the averages of the two races is exceedingly small as compared with the range of variability found in either race. Thus it happens that the brain-weights of the bulk of the Negro race and of the bulk of the white race have the same values, with the sole exception that low brain-weights are slightly more frequent among the Negroes, high brain-weights slightly more frequent among the whites.

Elaborate studies of brains of great men, criminals, and normal individuals have proved that the relation between mental ability and brain-weight is rather remote, and that we are not by any means justified in concluding that the larger brain is always the more efficient tool for mental achievement. There is presumably a slight increase of average ability corresponding to a considerable increase in average brainweight ; but this increase is so slight that in a comparison of the mental ability of the Negro race and of the white race, the difference in size of the brain seems quite insignificant.

The second point of which much has been made is the question of the difference in period of development between the two races. It has been claimed that the Negro child develops favorably, but that its development is arrested at an early date. Unfortunately, these statements are not based on careful examination of facts; and while I am unable to refute these views by bringing forward actual anthropometrical statistics bearing upon the subject, I am also not in a position to sustain them by any reliable evidence. The question is an important one, and should receive serious attention.

But even if the observation had been made, its interpretation would not be an easy one without the most painstaking investigation of the social conditions with which the phenomenon is correlated. We know that in the white race the most favorably situated social groups show the most rapid growth in early childhood and an early completion of development; while the poor, who live under more unfavorable social conditions, show a slow and longcontinued development, which, however, in its entirety, does not equal the amount of physiological development attained by better-situated individuals of the same race. It appears, therefore, that the simple fact of an early completion of development does not by any means prove mental inferiority, because the better-situated element of our white population furnishes a disproportionately large number of capable and efficient individuals, as compared to the less favorably situated groups.

The whole anatomical and physiological comparison of the Negro and of the white race may be summed up in the statement that certain differences between the two races are so fundamental that they seem to form two quite distinct groups of the human species, the characteristics of which, notwithstanding the great variability of each race, do not overlap; while, in regard to other characteristics, the differences are so slight that the difference between the two races is insignificant, as compared to the range of variability exhibited in each race by itself; and that there are hardly any anatomical or physiological traits developed in such manner that we are justified in calling one race anatomically or physiologically higher than the other. The existing differences are differences in kind, not in value. This implies that the biological evidence’ also does not sustain the view, which is so often proposed, that the mental power of the one race is higher than that of the other, although their mental qualities show, presumably, differences analogous to the existing anatomical and physiological differences.


The objection will be raised that the low stage of culture of the African race in many parts of America, as well as in Africa, shows clearly a lack of mental power, because otherwise the Negro race might have developed a civilization similar to that of Europe. In answer to this objection, we must remember that, on the whole, our conception of African conditions is based altogether too much upon the condition of the uneducated descendant of the American Negro slave. Any one who is familiar with ethnological facts will recognize that the conditions under which the American slave population developed is apt to destroy what little culture may have existed. The complete break with the African past; the imposition of labor, in the results of which the slave had no direct interest; the difficulty of assimilating the elements of civilization by which they were surrounded, all tended equally to reduce to a minimum the amount of independent cultural achievement of the group.

On the other hand, the general impression of African conditions is based altogether too much upon our knowledge of the American Negro. It is not sufficiently well known how highly advanced is the industrial and political organization of aboriginal Africa. Villages that have not been ravaged by Mohammedan or European slave hunters, and which have enjoyed a period of peace, are characterized by high industrial development.


Agriculture flourishes; men and women are engaged in pottery making, weaving, blacksmith work, and metal casting; trade between the different villages is well organized ; and in many cases the political organization, owing to the force of character of great men, has led to the establishment of states which cover territories comparable in size only to large sections of our American continent. I think it is not saying too much if I state that among the primitive people of the world, the natives of Central Africa are by far the most advanced, and that the type of their civilization belongs to the same level of culture which was found a few thousand years ago all over the western part of the Old World, including Europe and Western Asia.

If the Africans have not shared in the development which, after many vicissitudes, gradually extended from Egypt and Babylonia over the Mediterranean area, and from there later into Northern Europe, this is due to the fact that Africa occupied a much more remote position in relation to these’ countries, and that the current of civilization was carried with much greater difficulty through the virgin forests and deserts of Africa than along the shores of the Mediterranean and across the forests and meadow lands of Europe.

Thus it may safely be said that there is no anthropological evidence showing inferiority of the Negro race as compared with the white race, although we may assume that differences in mental characteristics of the two races exist.


The question that confronts us is not alone the question of the mental aptitude of the full-blood Negro, but also the question of the ability, vigor, and adaptability of the mulatto. In the course of time, since the Negro has been imported into America, a very large amount of influx of white blood has taken place, which has had the result that in those parts of the country where the Negro does not form a very great majority, full-bloods are presumably quite rare. Owing to the peculiar manner of development of this mulatto population, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to trace the exact amount of white blood and of Negro blood in the mixed races; but even a cursory examination of the prevalent types of the colored population shows clearly that the mixture is very extended.

Here the point has often been raised that the mulatto population is inferior to either pure race, or, to use the popular form of expression, that they inherit all the evil characteristics of both parental races, and none of their good qualities. It is obvious that in this exaggerated form the statement is untrue. As a matter of fact, this theory is generally used only so far as it may suit our purposes; and the statement that a mulatto of exceptional ability and strength of character owes his eminence to the white strain in his blood is seriously made without being felt as a contradiction to this theory. Serious attempts have been made to investigate the social and vital characteristics of the mulatto as compared to the Negro race and to the white race; but here again we must recognize with regret that a sound basis for safe conclusions has not been gained yet. It is very difficult to differentiate clearly between those characteristics of the mulatto that are due to the social conditions under which he lives, and those that are due to hereditary causes. In order to determine the actual conditions with any degree of accuracy, extensive investigations would have to be carried through with this specific object in view.

It seems to my mind that the assumption which is generally made is very unlikely, for it ought to be possible to find, either in history or in biology, parallel cases demonstrating the evil effects of intermixture upon mixed types. It seems to my mind that the whole early history of our domesticated animals indicates that mixture has hardly ever had detrimental effect upon the development of varieties. Practically none of our domesticated animals are descendants of a single species. The probable history of our European cattle will illustrate what presumably happened. In all likelihood cattle were first domesticated in Asia and came to Europe in company with a number of tribes that migrated from the East westward. At tnis period large herds of wild cattle existed in Europe. The herds attracted the wild native bulls, which belonged to a distinct species of cattle, and a gradual mixture of the blood of the domesticated and of the wild cattle took place, which had the effect of modifying the type of the animal that was kept.


In the same way domesticated cattle would from time to time escape and join the wild herds; so that admixture occurred also in the wild species. This gradual modification of the type of both wild and domesticated animals may be observed even at the present time in Siberia and in Central Asia; and a zoological investigation of our domesticated animals has shown that practically in all cases this has been the development of the existing types. It is a peculiarity incident to domestication that intermixture of distinct types is facilitated. Among wild animals mixture of different species is, on the whole, rare; and mixture of distinct varieties of the same species does not ordinarily occur, because each variety has its own local habitat.

If we want to understand analogous conditions in mankind clearly, we must remember that man, in his bodily form and in his physiological functions, is strictly analogous to domesticated animals. Practically everywhere human culture has advanced so far that the anatomical type of man cannot be compared to that of wild animals, but must be considered as analogous to the type of domesticated animals. This condition has brought it about that intermixture of distinct types has always been easy.

The types of man which were originally strictly localized have not remained so, but extended migrations have been the rule ever since very early times; in fact, as far back as our knowledge of prehistoric archaeology carries us. Therefore we find mixtures between distinct types the world over. For our present consideration the mixed types that occur on the borderland of the Negro races seem particularly interesting. I mention among these the Western people of the Polynesian Islands, who are undoubtedly a mixture of negroid types and of another type related to the Malay, a highly gifted people, which, before European contact, had developed a peculiar and interesting culture of their own. More interesting than these are the inhabitants of the southern borderland of the Sahara.


In olden times this was the home of the darkest Negro races; but immediately north of them were found people of much lighter complexion, which, in descent, belong to the group of Mediterranean people. They belong to the same group which developed the ancient Egyptian civilization. For long periods these people have made inroads into the Negro territory south of the Sahara, and have established the empire of the Sudan, whose history we can trace about a thousand years back. In this manner a mixed population has developed in many of these regions which has proved exceedingly capable, which has produced a great many men of great power, and which has succeeded in assimilating a considerable amount of Arab culture.

It is quite remarkable to see how, in some of the more remote parts of this country, where intermixture has been very slight, the pure Negro type dominates and has developed exactly the same type of culture which is found in other regions, where the North African type predominates. The development of culture, and the degree of assimilation of foreign elements, depend, in this whole area, not upon the purity of the race, but upon the stability of political conditions, which during long periods have been characterized by an alternation of peaceful development and of warlike conquest.

The history of East Africa, with its extended migrations of people from north to south, is another case illustrating the infusion of foreign blood into the African race without in any way modifying the cultural conditions of the continent, except so far as the introduction of new inventions is concerned.


I think, therefore, that biological analogy as well as historical evidence do not favor the assumption of any material inferiority of the mulatto. The question, however, deserves a painstaking investigation. The simple facts that Negroes and Europeans live side by side in our country, that the European receives constant large additions from abroad, while the amount of Negro blood receives no additions from outside, must necessarily lead to the result that the relative number of pure Negroes will become less and less in our country. The gradual process of elimination of the full-blooded Negro may be retarded by legislation, but it cannot possibly be avoided.

It seems to my mind that a very serious misunderstanding of the actual conditions of intermixture between Negro and white prevails in many parts of our country. The fear is often expressed that by intermixture between whites and Negroes the whole mass of the white population might be infused with a certain amount of Negro blood. This is not what has actually occurred, but what would result if unions between white women and Negro men were as frequent as unions between Negro men and white women. As a matter of fact, however, the former type of unions—that of the Negro male and of the white female— are exceedingly few in number as compared to the others. It therefore follows that our mulattoes are almost throughout the offspring of Negro mothers and white fathers. Now, we must remember that the total number of children born in the community depends upon the number of mothers, and that the number of children born of the Negro or mulatto women would be approximately the same, no matter whether the fathers are Negroes, mulattoes, or white men. It thus appears that in all cases where mixture between whites and Negroes occurs, as long as this mixture is predominantly a mixture of white fathers and colored mothers, the relative proportion of Negro blood in the following mixed generation becomes less, and that therefore a gradually increasing similarity of the two racial types may develop.

I think we may say with safety that the intensity of racial feeling always depends upon two important causes. The one is the relative number of the two races which come into contact. Where one of the races is overwhelmingly in the majority, and the other race is represented by a few individuals only, intensity of race feeling is generally rather slight; while in all cases where both types are so numerous as to form large social divisions, characterized by habits of their own, and representing a strong economic influence, intense race feelings easily develop. These feelings are strongly emphasized by a second consideration: namely, the amount of difference of type.

This is true, at least, in all countries inhabited by north European, particularly by Teutonic, nations. As long as the general emotional state of our society persists— and there is no reason to assume that our general attitude will change to any appreciable degree within a measurable time —it seems obvious that our race problems will become the less intense, the less the difference in type between the different groups of our people, and the less the isolation of certain social groups. From this point of view, it would seem that one aspect of the solution of the Negro problem lies entirely in the hands of the Negro himself. The less Negro society represents a party with its own aims and its own interest distinct from those of the members of the white race, the more satisfactory will be the relation between the races. On the other hand, it would seem that the inexorable conditions of our life will gradually make toward the disappearance of the most distinctive type of Negro, which will again tend to alleviate the acuteness of race feeling. It may seem like a look into a distant future; but an unbiased examination of conditions as they exist at the present time points to the ultimate result of a levelling of the deep distinctions between the two races and a more and more fruitful co-operation.

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Race, ideas, and ideals: A comparison of Franz Boas and Hans F.K. Günther

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive on 2012-12-27 21:08Z by Steven

Race, ideas, and ideals: A comparison of Franz Boas and Hans F.K. Günther

History of European Ideas
Volume 32, Issue 3, 2006
pages 313-332
DOI: 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2006.05.001

Amos Morris-Reich, Director of the Bucerius Institute
Department of Jewish History
University of Haifa, Israel

This article compares two radically opposed views concerning “race” in the first half of the 20th century: the one of Franz Boas (1858–1942), the founder of American cultural anthropology, and the other of Hans F. K. Günther (1889–1968), the most widely read theoretician of race in Nazi Germany. Opposite as their views were, both derived from a similar non-evolutionist German anthropological matrix. The article reconstructs their definitions of racial objects and studies their analyses of racial intermixture. Although both believed that contemporary peoples were racially deeply mixed, Boas moved towards an antiracist conception of race-as-population, whereas Günther moved towards a racist conception of homogenous races in mixed peoples. The comparison shows that the major difference between them concerns their ideals or guiding principles. Their respective ideals seeped into their versions of science and transformed the nature and the significance of their respective ideas.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom, United States on 2012-01-01 01:52Z by Steven

The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars

Cambridge University Press
September 1993
396 pages
228 x 152 mm
ISBN: 9780521458757
DOI: 10.2277/0521458757

Elazar Barkan, Professor of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

This fascinating study in the sociology of knowledge documents the refutation of scientific foundations for racism in Britain and the United States between the two world wars, when the definition of race as a biological concept was replaced by a cultural notion of race. Discussing the work of the leading biologists and anthropologists who wrote about race between the wars, Dr. Barkan argues that the impetus for the shift in ideologies of race came from the inclusion of outsiders—women, Jews, and leftists—into the mainstream of scientific discourse.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • List of abbreviations
  • Introduction
    • 1. Constructing a British identity
      • Colors into races. A transition to modern British anthropology. The founding fathers. Mummies, bones and stones. The shift in British archaeology. A British glimpse at race relations.
    • 2. American diversity
      • Haunted sentinels. European skulls and the primitive mind. The Boasians. American physical anthropology. The politics of coexistence. Dionysia in the Pacific.
    • 3. In search of a biology of race
      • NewGenics. The statistician’s fable. Race crossing in Jamaica. A Canadian in London: rigid Reginald Ruggles Gates.
    • 4. The limit of traditional reform
      • A racist liberal: Julian Huxley’s early years. Herbert Spencer Jennings and progressive eugenics. A conservative critique: Raymond Pearl. Bridging race formalism and population genetics.
    • 5. Mitigating racial differences
      • Lancelot Hogben. “Africa view” – Huxley’s changing perspectives. J. B. S. Haldane: a defiant aristocrat. Medicine and eugenics: expanding the environment. Eugenics reformed.
    • 6. Confronting racism: scientists as politicians
      • 1933 – Early hesitations. Britain – Race and Culture Committee. We Europeans. The American scene. An international interlude. The Paris Congress. The population committee. Out of the closet.
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Race Problems in America

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-12-29 02:27Z by Steven

Race Problems in America

Science Magazine
Volume 29, Number 752 (1909-05-28)
pages 839-849
DOI: 10.1126/science.29.752.839

Franz Boas

The development of the American nation through amalgamation of diverse European nationalities and the ever-increasing heterogeneity of the component elements of four people have called attention to the anthropological and biological problems involved in this process. I propose to discuss here these problems with a view of making clear the hypothetical character of many of the generally accepted assumptions. It will be our object to attempt a formulation of the problens, and to outline certain directions of inquiry, that promise a solution of the questions involved, that, at the present time, can not be answered with scientific accuracy. It is disappointing that we have to accept this critical attitude, because the events of our daily life bring before our eyes constantly the grave issues that are based on the presence of distinct types of man in our country, and on the continued influx of heterogeneous nationalities from Europe. Under the pressure of these events, we seem to be called upon to formulate defnite answers to questions that require the most painstaking and unbiased investigation. The more urgent the demand for final conclusions, the more needed is a critical examination of the phenomena and of the available methods of solution…

…I think we have reason to be ashamed to confess that the scientific study of these questions has never received the support either of our government or of any of our great scientific institutions; and it is hard to understand why we are so indifferent towards a question which is of paramount importance to the welfare of our nation. The anatomy of the American negro is not well known; and, notwithstanding the oftrepeated assertions regarding the hereditary inferiority of the mulatto, we know hardly anything on this subject. If his vitality is lower than that of the fullblooded negro, this may be as much due to social causes as to hereditary causes. Owing to the very large number of mulattoes in our country, it would not be a difficult matter to investigate the biological aspects of this question thoroughly; and the importance of the problem demands that this should be done. Looking into a distant future, it seems reasonably certain that with the increasing mobility of the negro, the number of fullbloods will rapidly decrease; and since there is no introduction of new negro blood, there can not be the slightest doubt that the ultimate effect of the contact between the two races must necessarily be a continued increase of the amount of white blood in the negro community. This process will go on most rapidly inside of the colored community, owing to intermarriages between mulattoes and full-blooded negroes. Whether or not the addition of white blood to the colored population is sufficiently large to counterbalance this leveling effect, which will make the mixed bloods with, a slight strain of negro blood darker, is difficult to tell; but it is quite obvious, that, although our laws may retard the influx of white blood considerably, they can not hinder the gradual progress of intermixture. If the powerful caste system of India has not been able to prevent intermixture, our laws, which recognize a greater amount of individual liberty, will certainly not be able to do so; and that there is no racial sexual antipathy is made sufficiently clear by the size of our mulatto population. A candid consideration of the manner in which intermixture takes place shows very clearly that the probability of the infusion of white blood into the colored population is considerable. While the large body of the white population will always, at least for a very long time to come, be entirely remote from any possibility of intermixture with negroes, I think that we may predict with a fair degree of certainty a condition in which the contrast between colored people and whites will be less marked than it is at the present time. Notwithstanding all the obstacles that may be laid in the way of intermixture, the conditions are such that the persistence of the pure negro type is practically impossible. Not even an excessively high mortality and lack of fertility among the mixed type, as compared with the pure types, could prevent this result. Since it is impossible to change these conditions, they should be faced squarely, and we ought to demand a careful and critical investigation of the whole problem…

Read the entire article here.

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The Collage Aesthetic in the Harlem Renaissance

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2011-03-29 19:20Z by Steven

The Collage Aesthetic in the Harlem Renaissance

Ashgate Publishing
November 2009
232 pages
Includes 5 b&w illustrations
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7546-6198-6

Rachel Farebrother, Lecturer in American Studies
University of Swansea

Beginning with a subtle and persuasive analysis of the cultural context, Farebrother examines collage in modernist and Harlem Renaissance figurative art and unearths the collage sensibility attendant in Franz Boas’s anthropology. This strategy makes explicit the formal choices of Harlem Renaissance writers by examining them in light of African American vernacular culture and early twentieth-century discourses of anthropology, cultural nationalism and international modernism. At the same time, attention to the politics of form in such texts as Toomer’s Cane, Locke’s The New Negro and selected works by Hurston reveals that the production of analogies, juxtapositions, frictions and distinctions on the page has aesthetic, historical and political implications. Why did these African American writers adopt collage form during the Harlem Renaissance? What did it allow them to articulate? These are among the questions Farebrother poses as she strives for a middle ground between critics who view the Harlem Renaissance as a distinctive, and necessarily subversive, kind of modernism and those who foreground the cooperative nature of interracial creative work during the period. A key feature of her project is her exploration of neglected connections between Euro-American modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, a journey she negotiates while never losing sight of the particularity of African American experience. Ambitious and wide-ranging, Rachel Farebrother’s book offers us a fresh lens through which to view this crucial moment in American culture.


  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Boasian Anthropology and the Harlem Renaissance
  • 2. ‘[F]lung out in a jagged, uneven but progressive pattern’: ‘Culture-citizenship’ in The New Negro
  • 3. ‘[A]dventuring through the pieces of a still unorganized mosaic’: Jean Toomer’s Collage Aesthetic in Cane
  • 4. ‘Think[ing] in Hieroglyphics’: Zora Neale Hurston’s Cross-Cultural Aesthetic
  • 5. Reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Textual Synthesis in Jonah’s Gourd Vine and Moses, Man of the Mountain
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Read the introduction here.
Read the index here.

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The Measure of America: How a rebel anthropologist waged war on racism

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-10-25 23:00Z by Steven

The Measure of America: How a rebel anthropologist waged war on racism

The New Yorker
18 pages

Claudia Roth Peierpont

Along with the Ferris wheel, the hamburger, Cracker Jack, Aunt Jemima, the zipper, Juicy Fruit, and the vertical file, the word “anthropology” was introduced to a vast number of Americans at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Marking the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America-and opening just a little late, in May, 1893, owing to the amount of construction required to turn a marshy wasteland on Lake Michigan into a neoclassical “White City,” as the fair was called-the six-month celebration put on display all that the nation had achieved and still hoped to become. Here proud Americans could view the table on which the Declaration of Independence had been signed, the manuscript of Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, and two full-scale replicas of the Liberty Bell-one executed entirely in grain, the other in oranges. As for the future, the fair was ablaze with work-reducing inventions, from the electric kitchen to the electric chair. But the most important promise of an American utopia was the extraordinary assembly of peoples. American Indians and native Africans, Germans, Egyptians, and Labrador Eskimos were just a few of those invited to take part in nearly a hundred “living exhibits”-whole villages were imported and exactingly rebuilt-with the purpose of expanding American minds: “broadening, opening, lighting up dark corners,” a contemporary magazine expounded, “bringing them in sympathy with their fellow men.”

No one was more devoted to this goal than a young anthropologist named Franz Boas, who had emigrated from Germany ten years before, staunch in the belief that America was “politically an ideal country.” Enthralled by the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, he had made his field of study the Indians of the Northwest Coast-the artistically accomplished Haida, Kwakiutl, and Bella Coola tribes-and, in the days leading up to the fair’s triumphal opening, he was busy supplying the final timbers for a pair of houses in which a Kwakiutl group would live, on the bank of a pond outside a small pavilion marked “Anthropology.” Inside was a spectacular array of masks and decorated tools, which Boas had spent two years assembling. His expectations for impressing visitors derived less from the works’ richly painted surfaces, however, than from their intellectual and imaginative content-what he described as the “wealth of thought” that was clearly visible if only people learned to look. The Indians had been asked to perform the rituals that would enable viewers to perceive this wealth, and had been assured that at the fair they would receive the respect that was their due, even if it had been no part of their experience in the old, demonstrably un-utopian New World.

In fact, the wretched history of Indian life in nineteenth-century America had long been justified by the claims of anthropology, a field that originated during debates over slavery and the right of settlers to seize the natives’ lands, and patriotically embraced such practices as part of the natural racial order. The chief means of establishing the racial order was to measure skulls-both the conveniently empty craniums acquired through a thriving graveyard market and the more resistant living models. Anthropologists presented their findings as objective science: elaborate measuring techniques yielded columns of figures that inevitably placed white intelligence at the top of the scale, red and yellow capacities farther down, and blacks at the wholly uncivilizable bottom. It was no coincidence that this science faithfully mirrored popular opinion: published studies were so open in their manipulation of evidence-a higher proportion of male skulls, for example, were employed when larger dimensions were desired-that they appear to have been not conscious attempts at deception but unwitting examples of delusion.

The effects of such studies, however, were painfully real. At mid-century, the anthropologist Samuel Morton asserted that whites and Negroes belonged to different species, while another anthropologist, Josiah Nott, popularized the view that slavery saved Negroes from reverting to their original barbaric state: these authoritative voices resounded in the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, of 1857, in which Chief Justice Roger Taney resolved that “the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.” After Emancipation, theories of separate racial evolutions fuelled the case for black disenfranchisement, right up to the passing of the first Jim Crow laws, around the time of the Chicago fair…

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Science: Environmentalist

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-10-25 18:58Z by Steven

Science: Environmentalist

Time Magazine

In Washington last week one of the world’s most distinguished anthropologists told the National Academy of Sciences about an Englishman who was raised in Italy and married a Jewess. In consequence this Englishman’s gestures gradually became half Italian, half Jewish.

Anthropology is neither an old science like mathematics, astronomy and medicine, nor a modern one like genetics or electronics. The ancient Greeks were willing enough to assign man a place in the animal kingdom and some of them, notably Anaximander, had an inkling of evolution. But they were content to speculate and philosophize. In the early 19th Century anthropology as a science had made little headway. Species and varieties of plants and animals were considered changeless, and so were the races of man. The strange manlike bones found here & there in caves and quarries were thought to be the remains of monsters. The beliefs and practices of primitive people were shrugged off as so much sordid playacting. When the origin and fluidity of species, the significance of fossils and the rationale of primitive cultures were better understood, anthropology began to make progress as a serious study of man in all his aspects.

Franz Boas got into anthropology 53 years ago. He has invaded almost every branch of this science: linguistics, primitive mentality, folklore, ethnology, growth and senility, the physical effects of environment. He reminds his colleagues of the oldtime family doctor who did everything from delivering babies to pulling teeth.

By no means all anthropologists share Dr. Boas’ belief in the tremendous physical influence of environment. But when he has something to say they listen respectfully…

…Magna Charta. Currently in England a group of scientists including Sir Arthur Smith Woodward and Julian Huxley are engaged in knocking the flimsy props from under Nazi ideas of race purity and race superiority. A quarter-century ago Franz Boas was attacking the same sort of ideas. At that time the view was popular that different races had their characteristic mentalities which determined their culture. Boas had piled up enough data to convince him that such was not the case. The Mind of Primitive Man was published in 1911. When he was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1931, that book was called “A Magna Charta of self-respect for the ‘lower’ races.”

Boas observed that nowhere on earth was there such a thing as a pure race, and that the term “race” was a vague and approximate one at best. He doubted that there were any “superior” races. To Boas it seemed that if one person was innately superior to another, it was because there was more genetic difference between family lines than between racial types. Anatomists cannot tell the difference between the brains of a Swede and a Negro. They may distinguish the skulls, but it has been shown over & over that neither the size nor shape of the skull, within the range of normality, has anything to do with intelligence. Dr. Boas has no confidence in intelligence tests as measures of race superiority, because such tests cannot be divorced entirely from environment and experience. During the War it was found that Chicago Negroes did better with intelligence tests than Louisiana blacks, although the two groups were anthropologically alike…

…Dr. Boas argues that if common race prejudice had “instinctive” antipathy for its source, it would show itself in the most intimate of all contacts, the sexual relation. But throughout history slave-owners have bedded with female slaves of different race, whites have mated with Indians and Negroes. Southern children show no aversion whatever to black nurses, must be taught by their elders not to accept blacks as equals. The strongest antipathies are those between social castes like those of India and ancient Egypt — between people of the same race…

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Race-mixing and science in the United States

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2010-10-25 17:44Z by Steven

Race-mixing and science in the United States

Volume 27, Number 4 (December 2003)
pages 166-170
DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2003.08.007

Paul Farber, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History
Oregon State University

Scientific racism was widely used as a justification to oppose race-mixing in the United States. Historians have justly criticized this abuse of science, but have overlooked some of the important ways in which science was used in the 1930s and 1940s to overturn scientific racism and opposition to race-mixing. Of particular importance was the cultural anthropology of Franz Boas and the evolutionary biology of Theodosius Dobzhansky, which supplied arguments against racism and fundamentally altered the scientific understanding of race.

The history of scientific racism provides a cautionary tale about the abuse of science by scientists and policy makers, and the ease with which cultural assumptions penetrate our picture of nature. It, therefore, serves as a paradigm case of the relationship of scientific ideas to their social context. Historians have generally castigated the scientists who used and abused their science to justify racist social policy. It would be a mistake, however, if in the discussion of scientific racism we lost sight of the role that science itself played in transforming modern notions of race and in combating racism. Although scholars have generated a vast and complex historical literature on racism and the use of science to legitimate it, they have not paid as much attention to the positive role science played. The history of ideas on race-mixing in the US provides a convenient lens through which to focus on some of the central ideas concerning race and racism, and it is a story that can help make clearer the role science had in influencing the discussion.

A young couple in the 1960s most likely would not have consulted a biology book to help decide if their different racial backgrounds posed an obstacle to getting married and raising a mixed-race family. But, this is not to say that what went for scientific opinion would have been irrelevant to their decision. In many subtle, and some not-so subtle, ways, scientific judgements influence individual choice, social acceptance and legal constraints. Before 1967, 17 states had anti-miscegenation laws that prohibited marriages involving individuals of certain different races, and an extensive body of literature justified those laws by reference to science. In the three decades before the 1967 US Supreme Court ruled in Loving versus Virginia that such laws were unconstitutional, a shift in thinking occurred in the US concerning inter-racial marriage. In part, that shift reflected a new social landscape altered by World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960s cultural upheaval. But science also played an important, if generally unrecognized, role in that transformation. In particular the work done in anthropology by Franz Boas and his students, and by Theodosius Dobzhansky and others in formulating the modern theory of evolution were central to the contributions made by scientists to the understanding of race and race-mixing…

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The Idea Of Race

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2009-12-04 00:08Z by Steven

The Idea Of Race

Hackett Publishing Company
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 0-87220-459-6, ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-459-1
Paper ISBN: 0-87220-458-8, ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-458-4

Edited by

Robert Bernasconi, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy
Pennsylvania State University

Tommy L. Lott, Professor of Philosophy
San José State University

A survey of the historical development of the idea of race, this anthology offers pre-twentieth century theories about the concept of race, classic twentieth century sources reiterating and contesting ideas of race as scientific, and several philosophically relevant essays that discuss the issues presented. A general Introduction gives an overview of the readings. Headnotes introduce each selection. Includes suggested further readings.

Table of Contents

The Classification of Races

  1. Francois Bernier, “A new division of earth, according to the different species or races of men who inhabit it”
  2. Francois-Marie Voltaire, “Of the Different Races of Men,” from The Philosophy of History
  3. Immanuel Kant, “Of the Different Human Races”
  4. Johann Gottfried von Herder, Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humankind
  5. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, On the Natural Variety of Mankind
  6. G. W. F. Hegel, “Anthropology,” from The Encyclopedia of Philosophical Science

Science and Eugenics

  1. Arthur de Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races
  2. Charles Darwin, “On the Races of Man,” from The Descent of Man
  3. Francis Galton, “Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims”

Heredity and Culture

  1. Franz Boas, “Instability of Human Types”
  2. Alain Locke, “The Concept of Race as applied to Social Culture”
  3. Ashley Montagu, “The Concept of Race in the Human Species in the Light of Genetics”

Race and Political Ideology

  1. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Conservation of Races
  2. Anthony Appiah, “The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race”
  3. Leopold Senghor, “What is Negritude?”

Racial Identity

  1. Linda Alcoff, “Mestizo Identity”
  2. Michael Hanchard, “Black Cinderella? Race and the Public Sphere in Brazil”
  3. Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States.
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