The Myth of Race

The Myth of Race

The Troubling Persistence of An Unscientific Idea

Book - 2014
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Biological races do not exist -- and never have. This view is shared by all scientists who study variation in human populations. Yet racial prejudice and intolerance based on the myth of race remain deeply ingrained in Western society. Robert Sussman explores how race emerged as a social construct from early biblical justifications to the pseudoscientific studies of today. The Myth of Race traces the origins of modern racist ideology to the Spanish Inquisition, revealing how sixteenth-century theories of racial degeneration became a crucial justification for Western imperialism and slavery. In the nineteenth century, these theories fused with Darwinism to produce the highly influential and pernicious eugenics movement. Believing that traits from cranial shape to raw intelligence were immutable, eugenicists developed hierarchies that classified certain races, especially fair-skinned "Aryans," as superior to others. These ideologues proposed programs of intelligence testing, selective breeding, and human sterilization -- policies that fed straight into Nazi genocide. Sussman examines how opponents of eugenics, guided by the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas's new, scientifically supported concept of culture, exposed fallacies in racist thinking.
Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2014
ISBN: 9780674417311
Branch Call Number: 305.8 SUS 2014
Characteristics: ix, 374 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Mar 25, 2015

See also:
"Darwin's Sacred Cause : Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins"
also titled
"Darwin's Sacred Cause : How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution"
by Adrian Desmond 1947- and James Richard Moore 1947-
Allen Lane 2009 ISBN-13: 978-1846140358
Houghton Mifflin 1st ed hc 2009 ISBN-10: 0547055269 -- ISBN-13: 978-0547055268

Quoting the description from because the BiblioCommons description is for a different book!

“In this remarkable book Adrian Desmond and James Moore, world authorities on Darwin, give a completely new explanation of how Darwin came to his famous view of evolution, which traced all life to an ancient common ancestor. Darwin was committed to the abolition of slavery, in part because of his family's deeply held beliefs. It was his 'Sacred Cause' and at its core lay a belief in human racial unity. Desmond and Moore show how he extended to all life the idea of human brotherhood held by those who fought to abolish slavery, so developing our modern view of evolution. Desmond and Moore argue that only by understanding Darwin's Christian abolitionist inheritance can we shed new light on the perplexing mix of personal drive, public hesitancy and scientific radicalism that led him finally in 1871 to publish The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. The result is an epoch-making study of this eminent Victorian.”

Mar 10, 2015

This is a book everyone should read, and I don't say that about many books. It deals with the development of racism as a scientific theory. It clarifies so much about 20th century history, racism, and race relations, and also points the finger at some institutions and scientific fields which helped make racism respectable and more ingrained, yet managed to shift the blame away from themselves post-WWII. It is also clear and readable. I recommend it highly.

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