Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Cleall, Esme 2015. Orientalising deafness: race and disability in imperial Britain. Social Identities, Vol. 21, Issue. 1, p. 22.


    Faith, Rosamond Davis, James Paul, Helen Murphy, Anne L. Crook, Tom Velkar, Aashish and Godden, Chris 2013. Review of periodical literature published in 2011. The Economic History Review, Vol. 66, Issue. 1, p. 297.


    Smith, Elise Juzda 2013. Putting racial science in its place (reviewing A. Fabian, The skull collectors. Race, science, and America’s unburied dead and B. R. Brown, Until Darwin, science, human variety and the origins of race). Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 44, Issue. 3, p. 443.


    Hale, Matthew Raymond, Graham and Wright, Catherine 2012. List of publications on the economic and social history of Great Britain and Ireland published in 2011. The Economic History Review, Vol. 65, Issue. 4, p. 1524.


    Sera-Shriar, Efram 2011. Ethnology in the metropole: Robert Knox, Robert Gordon Latham and local sites of observational training. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 486.


    ×

ROBERT GORDON LATHAM, DISPLAYED PEOPLES, AND THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RACE, 1854–1866*

  • SADIAH QURESHI (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X10000609
  • Published online: 31 January 2011
Abstract
ABSTRACT

In 1854, the Crystal Palace reopened at Sydenham. Significantly, it featured a court of natural history. Curated by the philologist and physician, Robert Gordon Latham, it was designed to provide the public with an ethnological education. Understanding Latham's project is of particular importance for broader understandings of the scientific importance of displayed peoples and mid-nineteenth-century debates on the nature of human variation. Recent scholarship has shown considerable interest in the relationship between exhibitions of foreign peoples and anthropology, particularly within the context of world fairs. Nevertheless, anthropologists are routinely claimed to have used fairs merely to display or publicly validate, rather than to make, scientific knowledge. Meanwhile, the 1850s and 1860s are often seen as having witnessed the emergence of a new ‘harder-edged’ scientific racism as, older, elastic definitions of ‘race’ were successfully overthrown by one rooted in biological difference (most commonly exemplified by the anatomist Robert Knox). By examining how Latham produced and used his museum of human types, this article proposes an alternative approach. It suggests that displayed peoples were used as ethnological specimens and that Latham's work is at a particularly significant crossroads for the mid-nineteenth-century remaking of ‘race’.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RHsq203@cam.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All

I am thankful to Jim Secord, Simon Schaffer, Peter Mandler, Sujit Sivasundaram, Elizabeth Edwards, Nick Jardine, Felix Driver, Anne Secord, Billie Melman, the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group, and two anonymous referees for their helpful advice and suggestions on this research in all its various guises. Efram Sera-Shriar and Kate Nichols deserve particular thanks for their helpful feedback and for allowing me access to unpublished material. All images are courtesy of Kevin Levell and Jim Secord.

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Seymour Drescher , ‘The ending of the slave trade and the evolution of European racism’, Social Science History, 14, (1990), pp. 415–50

Stephen D. Snobelen , ‘Of stones, men and angels: the competing myth of Isabelle Duncan's pre-Adamite man’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biomedical Sciences, 32, (2001), pp. 59104

Richard Cull , ‘On the recent progress of ethnology’, Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, 4, (1856), pp. 297316

Benoît De l'Estoile , ‘From the colonial exhibition to the museum of man. An alternative genealogy of French anthropology’, Social Anthropology, 11, (2003), pp. 341–61

Robert Clarke , ‘Sketches of the colony of Sierra Leone and its inhabitants’, Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, 2, (1863), pp. 320–63

Evelleen Richards , ‘The “moral anatomy” of Robert Knox: the interplay between biological and social thought in Victorian scientific naturalism’, Journal of the History of Biology, 22, (1989), pp. 373436

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×