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

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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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