1932

Abstract

Anthropology, especially biological anthropology, owes its origins to the scientific study of human racial differences. That dark history is well-acknowledged and, when it is taught, usually begins with the racism of early figures, such as Johann Friedrich Blumenbach or, more recently, Earnest Hooton, and exonerates itself through a turn toward antiracist scholars such as Frank Livingstone and Franz Boas. Rarely, if ever, is this origin story critically appraised. This article aims to complicate the origin story of biological anthropology by examining how colonial subjects were involved in the development, testing, and refinement of racial theory, and thus of biological anthropology itself. Taking India as an example, I trace how Indians and the caste system were first the subjects and eventually the interlocutors of racial scientific theory and testing. This reorientation, I argue, is important for developing a more expansive and accurate version of the discipline's history and also for shining a light on its relevance to contemporary global racial conflict.

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2022-10-24
2024-06-12
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