Book Review: Changing Concepts Of Race In Britain And The United States Between The World Wars.



Scientific racism claims that biological inheritance determines the character and behavior of social groups we identify as races. Despite its history of oppression and genocide, the scientific defense of racial inequality demonstrates a disturbing persistence. Murphy Ballen’s study of scientific racism in Great Britain and the United States in the 1920s and 1930s appropriately deals not with its demise but with its retreat. Making extensive use of private correspondence, Ballen relates leading scientists' published research to their personal and political backgrounds, and shows that both racists and antiracists often expressed a more virulent prejudice in private than in public. Ballen ...

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and in the United States, for the case against racism developed quite differently in the two scientific communities. On both sides of the Atlantic, physical anthropology and racial taxonomy lost ground to the new social and cultural anthropology. This shift away from biological determinism was significant, but Ballen too readily equates environmentalism and cultural relativism with a defense of racial equality. (p. 34) In the British case, as Henrika Kuklik has recently demonstrated, social anthropology suited a conservative colonial policy of indirect rule (p.55). Ballen is on firmer ground in the United States, where Franz Boas challenged conventional ideas about fixed racial types in the 1890s. Boas and his students, principally Melville Herskovitz, Otto Klineberg, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict, became champions of the primacy of culture over biology in explaining human behavior (p.55). Ballen discovered that Ruth Benedict's critiques of racism in the 1930s were written in ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 10/18/2004 01:14:48 PM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1249
Pages: 5

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