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The Retreat of Scientific Racism

The Retreat of Scientific Racism
Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars


  • Date Published: September 1993
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521458757

£ 42.99

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About the Authors
  • This fascinating study in the sociology of knowledge documents the refutation of scientific foundations for racism in Britain and the United States between the two World Wars, when racial differences were no longer attributed to cultural factors. Professor Barkan considers the social significance of this transformation, particularly its effect on race relations in the modern world. Discussing the work of the leading biologists and anthropologists who wrote between the wars, he argues that the impetus for the shift in ideologies came from the inclusion of outsiders (women, Jews, and leftists) who infused greater egalitarianism into scientific discourse. But even though the emerging view of race was constrained by a scientific language, he shows that modern theorists were as much influenced by social and political events as were their predecessors.

    • An exciting book investigating the intellectual justifications for racism between the wars, now out in paperback
    • Barkan looks at the decline of biological racism in both Britain and the USA
    • An account of a key shift in the intellectual culture of the twentieth century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '[This book] is informative, lucid and ambitious.' Bill Schwarz, Race and Class

    'Barkan's detailed narration of the theories and empirical research of scientists adds considerably to our understanding of the intellectual groundwork that prefaced the rejection of scientific racism. It is worthy of wide readership.' Robert Miles, Critical Social Policy

    'Barkan's nuanced treatment of American and British anthropologists and biologists … between the world wars is an authoritative and significant contribution to the history of racial thought of the two major English-speaking countries. His study … is a splendid example of the type of work that should be done in this subfield of intellectual history.' Vernon J. Williams, Jr, The American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1993
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521458757
    • length: 396 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.642kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Anthropology:
    1. Constructing a British identity
    2. American diversity
    Part II. Biology:
    3. In search of a biology of race
    4. The limit of traditional reform
    5. Mitigating racial differences
    Part III. Politics:
    6. Confronting racism: scientists as politicians

  • Author

    Elazar Barkan, Claremont Graduate School, California

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