After the War: A New Science and Old Controversies

Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


A few years ago, the historian of anthropology, George W. Stocking, Jr., as he surveyed the history of his discipline, asked: ‘What happened to race?’1 For more than a hundred years the division of the human species into biological races had seemed of cardinal significance to scientists. Race explained individual character and temperament, the structure of social communities, and the fate of human societies. In fact the commitment to typological races often appeared to have been deeper, because psychologically more necessary or satisfying, than the commitment to revolutionary changes in science itself. At times this commitment to race subtly modified the reception and interpretation put upon new biological theories. At the very least, belief in the fixity, reality and hierarchy of human races — in the chain of superior and inferior human types — had shaped the activities of scientists for decades.


Natural Selection Sickle Cell Anemia Identical Twin Human Species Intelligence Test 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    George W. Stocking, Jr., Race, Culture and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (New York: The Free Press, 1968) p. vii. The question had first been asked, according to Stocking, by Oscar Handlin more than a decade before.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The word comes from Thomas Kuhn’s now classic book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, for example, J. B. Birdsell, Human Evolution: An Introduction to the New Physical Anthropology (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1972); andGoogle Scholar
  4. L. L. Cavalli-Sforza and W. F. Bodmer, The Genetics of Human Populations (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The leader of the movement to rid science of the term ‘race’ and to replace it with a more neutral term, ‘ethnic group’, is the British-born anthropologist, Ashley Montagu, whose career has taken place primarily in the United States. See Ashley Montagu, ‘The Concept of Race’, American Anthropologist, 64 (1962) 917–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lionel Penrose, in a review in Annals of Eugenics, 17 (1952) 252, called the word ‘race’ obsolete; Hans Kalmus, one of Britain’s leading geneticists, also repudiated the word in his Genetics (London: Penguin, 1948) p. 48.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Stanley M. Garn, ed., Readings on Race (Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas, 1968) p. 4. In many third world countries, racial anthropology is still practised. After writing this chapter, I read an unpublished paper by John Rhoads, ‘Human Biology as Anthropology’, paper prepared for the Fall Colloquium Series, Yale University Anthropology Department, Tuesday, 15 November 1977. Its account of the recent history of anthropology is very similar to mine.Google Scholar
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    See Ashley Montagu, ed., Statement on Race, 3rd edn (Oxford University Press, 1972) for a reprint of all four UNESCO statements on race.Google Scholar
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    Joseph B. Birdsell, ‘On Methods of Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology. Part II. Anthropology’, American Scientist, 45 (1957) 395.Google Scholar
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    S. L. Washburn, ‘The Strategy of Physical Anthropology’, in A. L. Kroeber, ed., Anthropology Today: An Encyclopedic Inventory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953) pp. 714–27;Google Scholar
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    Washburn referred to the ‘new’ physical anthropology in 1953 (see ‘The Strategy of Physical Anthropology’). See also Montagu’s use of the phrase ‘the new physical anthropology’ in his Frontiers of Anthropology (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1974) p. 566, and J. B. Birdsell’s in Human Evolution, 2nd ed. (1975) p. xiii. See also the Symposium, ‘Physical Anthropology is Dead’, Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 19(1975) 132–53;Google Scholar
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    Julian Huxley, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (London: Allen & Unwin, 1942).Google Scholar
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    Theodosius Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962);Google Scholar
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    For these definitions, see Stephen Molmar, Races, Types, and Ethnic Groups: the Problem of Human Variation (Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1975) p. 13.Google Scholar
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    See C. Loring Brace, ‘A Nonracial Approach Towards the Understanding of Human Diversity’, in C. Loring Brace and James Metress, ed., Man in Evolutionary Perspective (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973) pp. 314–63, andGoogle Scholar
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    William C. Boyd, ‘Critique of the Methods of Classifying Mankind’, Amer. Jour, of Phys. Anthr., 27 (1940) 333–64, and Boyd, Genetics. For Boyd’s classification, see S. Molmar, Races, Types and Ethnic Groups. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 22.
    A. C. Allison, ‘Protection Afforded by Sickle Cell Trait Against Subtertian Malarial Infection’, British Medical Journal, i (1954) 290–4, and ‘Notes on Sickle Cell Polymorphism’, Annals of Human Genetics, 19 (1954) 39–57. See also Frank S. Livingstone, A bnormal Hemoglobins in Human Populations: A Summary and Interpretation (Chicago: The Aldine Press, 1967).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving, pp. 153–5. Against an adaptationist interpretation, see Marshall T. Newman, ‘Nutritional Adaptation in Man’, in Albert Damon, ed., Physiological Anthropology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975) pp. 210–59. In recent years, the adaptationist programme of neo-Darwinism in general has been questioned. SeeGoogle Scholar
  27. S. J. Gould and R. C. Lewontin, ‘The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme’, Proc. R. Soc. Lond., B 205 (1975) 581–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving, pp. 269–83. See also Frederick S. Hulse, ‘Race as an Evolutionary Episode’, American Anthropologist, 64 (1962) 929–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 25.
    Edward E. Hunt, Jr., ‘Anthropometry, Genetics and Racial History’, American Anthropologist, 61 (1959) 64–87, andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  31. 27.
    Hans Kalmus, ‘Progress in Human Genetics’, in George S. Avery, Jr., Survey of Biological Progress, vol. ii (New York: Academic Press, 1952) pp. 53–77.Google Scholar
  32. 28.
    For the fortunes of mental tests in America between 1900 and 1941, see the chapter, ‘Mental Testing’ by Hamilton Cravens, The Triumph of Evolution: American Scientists and the Heredity-Environment Controversy, 1900–1941 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978) pp. 224–65. See also the first chapter inGoogle Scholar
  33. Leon J. Kamin’s The Science and Politics of I.Q. (Potomac, Md: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1974).Google Scholar
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    A. R.Jensen, ‘How Much Can we Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?’, Harvard Educational Review 39 (1969) 1–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 30.
    Some idea of the history of the controversy and the arguments involved can be gathered from N.J. Block and Gerald Dworkin, The I. Q. Controversy: Critical Readings (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976);Google Scholar
  36. C. L. Brace et al., eds., Race and Intelligence (Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1971);Google Scholar
  37. James M. Lawler, I.Q. Heritability and Racism (New York: International Publishers, 1978);Google Scholar
  38. Theodosius Dobzhansky, Genetic Diversity and Human Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1973); andGoogle Scholar
  39. Ashley Montagu, ed., Race and I.Q. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975). On Jensen’s side, seeGoogle Scholar
  40. Arthur Jensen, ‘Race and Mental Ability’, in F. J. Ebling, ed., Racial Variation in Man (London: Institute of Biology, 1975) pp. 71–108; and various chapters inGoogle Scholar
  41. R. Travis Osborne et al., eds, Human Variation: The Biopsychology of Age, Race, and Sex (London and New York: Academic press, 1978).Google Scholar
  42. 31.
    Gillian Sutherland, ‘The Magic of Measurement: Mental Testing and English Education’, Transactions of The Royal Historical Society 27 (1977) 135–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 32.
    These and other details of Burt’s career are found in the biography by L. S. Hearnshaw, Cyril Burt, Psychologist (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1979).Google Scholar
  44. 34.
    John Rex, ‘Racialism and the Urban Crisis’, in Leo Kuper, ed., Race, Science and Society (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1975) pp. 273–9.Google Scholar
  45. 35.
    Gordon K. Lewis, Slavery, Imperialism and Freedom: Studies in English Radical Thought (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1978) p. 80.Google Scholar
  46. 38.
    Stephen J. Gould, ‘Norton’s Ranking of Races by Cranial Capacity’, Science 200 (1978) 503–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 39.
    Jensen’s most recent book is Bias in Mental Testing (New York: The Free Press, 1980). For a critical review, see Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Jensen’s Last Stand’, New York Review of Books, xxvii, no. 7 (1 May 1980) 38–44.Google Scholar
  48. 40.
    Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  49. 41.
    For a review of the controversy in the public press, and a critique of sociobiology, see Marshall Sahlins, The Use and Abuse of Biology: An Anthropological Critique of Sociobiology (Ann Arbor, Mich: The University of Michigan Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  50. 42.
    John R. Baker, Race (London: Oxford University Press, 1974). Baker’s earlier role in anti-communist, eugenist and racialist polemics is described inGoogle Scholar
  51. Gary Wersky, The Visible College (London: Allen Lane, 1978) pp. 281–4, 298.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nancy Stepan 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryYale UniversityUSA

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