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The history of transdisciplinary race classification: methods, politics and institutions, 1840s–1940s

  • RICHARD MCMAHON (a1)
Abstract

A recently blossoming historiographical literature recognizes that physical anthropologists allied with scholars of diverse aspects of society and history to racially classify European peoples over a period of about a hundred years. They created three successive race classification coalitions – ethnology, from around 1840; anthropology, from the 1850s; and interwar raciology – each of which successively disintegrated. The present genealogical study argues that representing these coalitions as ‘transdisciplinary’ can enrich our understanding of challenges to disciplinary specialization. This is especially the case for the less well-studied nineteenth century, when disciplines and challenges to disciplinary specialization were both gradually emerging. Like Marxism or structuralism, race classification was a holistic interpretive framework, which, at its most ambitious, aimed to structure the human sciences as a whole. It resisted the organization of academia and knowledge into disciplines with separate organizational institutions and research practices. However, the ‘transdisciplinarity’ of this nationalistic project also bridged emerging borderlines between science and politics. I ascribe race classification's simultaneous longevity and instability to its complex and intricately entwined processes of political and interdisciplinary coalition building. Race classification's politically useful conclusions helped secure public support for institutionalizing the coalition's component disciplines. Institutionalization in turn stimulated disciplines to professionalize. They emphasized disciplinary boundaries and insisted on apolitical science, thus ultimately undermining the ‘transdisciplinary’ project.

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151 Kollmann, op. cit. (96), pp. 115–117; Sergi, Giuseppe, Specie e Varietà Umane: Saggio di una sistematica antropologica, Turin: Fratelli Bocca, 1900, p. 8 .

152 Günther, Hans F.K., Kleine Rassenkunde des Deutsches Volkes, Munich: Lehmann, 1933, p. 11 ; Czekanowski, Jan, ‘The racial structure of Silesia’, Baltic and Scandinavian Countries (1937) 3(2 [6]), pp. 227233, 228–230.

153 Morant, op. cit. (92), p. 153; Evola, Julius, Sintesi di dottrina della razza, Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1941, pp. 3435 .

154 Proctor, op. cit. (60), p. 143–145, 148; Massin, op. cit. (37), pp. 116, 130–131; Puschner, op. cit. (85), pp. 87–89; MacMaster, op. cit. (114), p. 5–6.

155 Field, Geoffrey G., ‘Nordic racism’, Journal of the History of Ideas (1977) 38(3), pp. 523540, 528.

156 Mazumdar, Pauline M.H., ‘Blood and soil: the serology of the Aryan racial state’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1990) 64(2), pp. 187219, 194; Kühl, Stefan, Die Internationale der Rassisten: Aufstieg und Niedergang der internationalen Bewegung für Eugenik und Rassenhygiene im 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 1997, p. 38 ; Field, op. cit. (155), p. 528.

157 Lutzhöft, op. cit. (94), p. 23; Kurnatowska, Zofia and Kurnatowski, Stanislaw, ‘Der Einfluss nationalistischer Ideen auf die mitteleuropaeische Urgeschichtsforschung’, in Piskorski, Jan M., Hackmann, Joerg and Jaworski, Rudolf (eds.), Deutsche Ostforschung und polnische Westforschung in Spannungsfeld von Wissenschaft und Politik, Osnabrück: Fibre, 2002, p. 98 ; Kossinna, Gustaf, ‘Der Ursprung der Urfinnen und der Urindogermanen und ihre Ausbreitung nach dem Osten’, Mannus (1909) 1, pp. 1752, 225–245, (1910) 2, pp. 59–108, 18–19.

158 Mazumdar, op. cit. (156), p. 191; Schneider, W.H., ‘The history of research on blood group genetics: initial discovery and diffusion’, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (1996) 18(3), pp. 273303, 296.

159 Fee, op. cit. (87), p. 427.

160 Herz, Friedrich, Rasse und Kultur: Eine kritische Untersuchung der Rassentheorien, Leipzig: Kröner, 1925, p. 14 ; Chamberlain, Houston Steward, Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Munich: F. Bruckmann K.-G., 1938 ; first published 1899, pp. 313, 317–318.

161 Chamberlain, op. cit (160), pp. 313, 317–320.

162 Turda, Marius, ‘In search of racial types: soldiers and the anthropological mapping of the Romanian nation, 1914–44’, Patterns of Prejudice (2012) 47(1), pp. 121, 4; Malik, Kenan, The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society, Houndmills and London: Macmillan, 1996, p. 84 ; Hannaford, Ivan, Race: The History of an Idea in the West, 1996, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, pp. 349350 .

163 Proctor, op. cit. (60), p. 138; Rosenberg, Alfred, Der Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts: Eine Wertung der seelisch-geistigen Gestaltenkämpfe unsere Zeit, 1930, Munich: Hoheneichen ; Evola, op. cit. (153), pp. 34–35, 73–77.

164 Köster, Werner, Die Rede über den “Raum”: Zur semantischen Karriere eines deutschen Konzepts, Heidelberg: Synchron, 2002, p. 74 .

165 Lixfeld, Hannajost, Folklore and Fascism: The Reich Institute for German Volkskunde, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, pp. 1213, 20–21; Sklenář, op. cit. (82), p. 151.

166 Lixfeld, op. cit. (165), pp. 12–13, 20–21.

167 Rączkowski, Włodzimierz, ‘“Drang nach Westen”? Polish archaeology and national identity’, in Díaz-Andreu, Margarita and Champion, Timothy, Nationalism and Archaeology in Europe, London: UCL Press, 1996, pp. 189217, 190–194; Kossinna, op. cit. (157), 18–19.

168 MacMaster, op. cit. (114), pp. 42–43; Kühl, op. cit. (156), pp. 23, 54–55.

169 Făcăoaru, op. cit. (58), pp. 211–217; Kühl, op. cit. (156), pp. 59, 93; Felder, Björn M., ‘“God forgives – but Nature never will”: racial identity, racial anthropology, and eugenics in Latvia 1918–1940’, in Felder, Björn M. and Weindling, Paul J. (eds.), Baltic Eugenics: Bio-politics, Race and Nation in Interwar Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 1918–1940, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013, pp. 115146, 129.

170 Weindling, Paul, Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism 1870–1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 7 ; Massin, op. cit. (37), pp. 137; Kühl, op. cit. (156), pp. 56–57.

171 Klein, op. cit. (7), p. 65; Alvargonzález, D., ‘Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and the sciences’, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science (2011) 25(4), pp. 387403, 393; Kevles, Daniel J., In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pp. 7072 .

172 Gould, op. cit. (39), p. 124.

173 Odom, op. cit. (23), p. 16; MacMaster, op. cit. (114), pp. 38–39.

174 Pogliano, op. cit. (83), pp. 34–35; Gould, op. cit. (39), p. 162.

175 Gheorghe Popoviciu, ‘Asemănări şi diferenţe în structura de rase sanghine a Românilor şi popoarelor conlocuitoare şi învecinate’, Dare De Seamă Asupra Şedinţelor: Societăţii Române De Antropologie Din Cluj (1935–1936), p. 78; Făcăoaru, Iordache, ‘Valoarea biorasială a naţiunilor europene şi a provinciilor româneşti: O primă încercare de ierarhizare etnică’, Buletinul Eugenic şi Biopolitic (1943) 14(9–10), pp. 278310, 296; Manuilă, Al., Originea Neamului Românesc în interpretarea sa biologică, Bucharest: Institutul Statistic, 1943, p. 7 ; Schneider, op. cit. (158), p. 282

176 McMahon, op. cit. (4), p. 39.

177 Boyd, William C., ‘Critique of methods of classifying mankind’, in Count, Earl W. (ed.), This Is Race: An Anthology Selected from the International Literature on the Races of Man, New York: Schuman, 1950, pp. 637653, 642; Marks, Jonathan, ‘The legacy of serological studies in American physical anthropology’, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (1996) 18(3), pp. 345362, 353; Pogliano, op. cit. (83), pp. 102, 396–397.

178 Hirschfeld, L. and Hirschfeld, H., ‘Essai d'application des méthodes sérologiques au problème des races’, L'Anthropologie (1918) 29, pp. 505537, 509, 518, 535–536.

179 Pogliano, op. cit. (83), pp. 33, 100; Necrasov, Olga C., Etude anthropologique de la Moldavie et de la Bessarabie septentrionales, Bucharest: Imprimerie nationale, 1941, pp. 132, 136; Schneider, op. cit. (158), p. 285.

180 MacMaster, op. cit. (114), pp. 35–41; Kevles, op. cit. (171), p. 46; Majewski, op. cit. (149), pp. 162–163.

181 Massin, op. cit. (37), p. 130.

182 Field, op. cit. (155), pp. 524–526; Czekanowski, Jan, Człowiek w czasie i przestrzenie, Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1967, p. 47 ; Lutzhöft, op. cit. (94), pp. 21, 92.

183 Proctor, op. cit. (60), pp. 146, 157; Czekanowski, op. cit. (182), p. 48.

184 Proctor, op. cit. (60), pp. 158–169; Coon, op. cit. (138), p. 286.

185 McMahon, op. cit. (4), p. 56.

186 Eickstedt, op. cit. (57), pp. 140–141; Kühl, op. cit. (156), pp. 34, 50, 53, 58–60, 66–68, 87; Felder, op. cit. (169), p. 120.

187 McMahon, op. cit. (4), pp. 59–64. I explore the reasons in McMahon, op. cit. (4), p. 60–64; and McMahon, Richard, ‘Transnational race classification: scientific network and system of narratives’, in McMahon (ed.), National Races: Scientific Classification and Political Identity, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming.

188 McMahon, op. cit. (4).

189 T. Bielicki, T. Krupinski and J. Strzalko, History of Physical Anthropology in Poland, International Association of Human Biologists, Occasional Papers (1985) 6, 7.

190 Schwidetzky, Ilse, ‘Die Rassenforschung in Polen’, Zeitschrift für Rassenkunde und ihre Nachbargebiete (1935) 1, pp. 7683, 136–204, 289–314, 140–141.

191 Schwidetzky, op. cit. (190).

192 Collis, John, The Celts: Origins, Myths & Inventions, Stroud: Tempus, 2003, pp. 86, 151; Kurnatowska and Kurnatowski, op. cit. (157), pp. 97–98; Sklenář, op. cit. (82), p. 151.

193 Czekanowski, Jan, ‘Sto Lat Antropologii Polskiej 1856–1956, Osrodek Lwowski’, Materiały i Prace Antropologiczne (1956) 34, pp. 4142 ; Schwidetzky, op. cit. (190), pp. 152, 162–164, 199, 302.

194 Marks, op. cit. (177), p. 346.

195 Pogliano, op. cit. (83), p. 47; Mazumdar, op. cit. (156), p. 193. Eastern German concentrations of group B therefore ‘proved’ Slav influence. Râmneanţu, Petru, ‘Distribuţia grupelor de sînge la populaţia din Transilvania’, Buletinul Eugenic şi Biopolitic (1941) 12(9–12), pp. 137159, 147.

196 Rees, op. cit. (128), p. 450.

197 McMahon, op. cit. (4), pp. 48–50.

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