Darwin sought to not only produce a new scientific truth, but also to put an end to polygenism, the current scientific discourse on human origins that gave tacit and at times explicit support for slavery: ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Excerpt from the Introduction to Until Darwin: Science & the Origins of Race


Excerpt from the Introduction to
Until Darwin: Science & the Origins of Race (2010)
[UNCORRECTED PROOF]


Pickering & Chatto Publishers
21 Bloomsbury Way London WC1A 2TH E: info@pickeringchatto.co.uk
Hb: c.256pp: October 2010
978 1 84893 100 8: 234x156mm: £60.00/$99.00
978 1 84893 101 5
http://www.pickeringchatto.com/titles/1396-9781848931008-until-darwin-science-human-variety-and-the-origins-of-race
The complete text of this chapter can be found at: 
https://www.academia.edu/230777/Until_Darwin_Science_Human_Variety_and_the_Origins_of_Race


Introduction
Ecce Homo or Slavery and Human Variety

The history of science is a history of forgetting. It is the history of how scientific truth emerges from the murky cacophony of words and things that were once said and built, but are now silenced and buried. At the moment a regime of scientific truth coalesces, this cacophony is enveloped within a rational, ordered and yet arbitrary universal system. But we should pause to remember that the elements of this system were already present in the anarchy it replaced. For reasons of practicality, we are taught to forget the chaos which preceded contemporary knowledge. At the same time, those elements of wretched knowledge that we thought were finally repressed by truth continue to emerge over and over again. In 1999, for example, most of the sociologists and anthropologists in the United States and Canada received in the mail an edited version of a 300 page work purporting to prove the inferiority of Blacks and Asians relative to Whites. The book was by a tenured professor at a respected Canadian university and published reputable press associated with a major American university.

On the other hand, it is certainly true that many insightful critiques of the concept of race have already been produced. The best of these works carry on the tradition of examining race not as an essential aspect of bodies, but as a concept of power that is overdetermined by the ideology of everyday life. In this sense, they have made significant contributions to our understanding of the meaning ---or emptiness--- of race. There are divergent tendencies at play in these works. Some tend to ignore or insufficiently treat the scientific definition of race as a historical problem, or at least they do not delve very deeply into the longe duree of race. Other analyses are much more historical, but often present the concept of race solely in the context of the history of ideas. It is in these works that some argue that racialism is rational and ‘at times’ a useful tactic of those classified as racially inferior by the dominate ideology. Others suggest that racialism can only come from one source ---one people--- and no where else. Few if any of these works, even those histories of ideas, trace the concept of race along the entangled path that leads to the critique of science itself, choosing to reflect on philosophy and meaning. There is little attempt to continue the analysis through to its historical critique of truth. The scientific work is mentioned only in passing, but if reason and domination are connected, as they most certainly are, then the history of science must be of more than mere passing interest to the study of Human variety. Reason --- manifested through science and technological domination --- is central to understanding race. This is especially true because the philosophy of race after Spencer came to serve as an interpretive adjunct to the science of race, just as philosophy came to be the adjunct of science. In the final analysis, the place to find the origins of the ‘meaning’ of race is in the sciences of life, in the magnificent bio-social discourse that spans disciplines from Natural History to Sociology. An investigation here leads one to understand the emptiness of the concept, except in relation to the formations of ideologies which serve as apparatuses for the deployment of scientific knowledge and its subsequent accumulation. In the essay you are now holding and reading, the analysis of race is not about finding the correct view of essential characteristics. This essay is about how the social and biological sciences are invested with authority. In a more theoretical sense, this essay is an attempt to situate the study of race in the context of a more general study of bio-social discourse. There is no better expression of the ideological foundation of modern science than the history of the scientific classifications that form the parameters for most biological and sociological investigations of race and racial differences. 

 
This essay suggests an avenue of research that might fill in a space made available by a variety of earlier work. An assumption that runs through much of this body of work is that the imperative to describe the experience of race can easily result in the distortion or elimination of the history of race. Relying on the description of this experience can make of the history of race appear as a series of obvious and easily recognizable events that led naturally and inevitably to the present. If "one must notice race" as some sociologists have claimed, then race must be seen not as metaphysical concept or reduced to the level of mere identity. Instead, what we have come to refer to as race is a landscape of conflict. The extent of this conflict is limited by a bio-social discourse on the meaning of being human. This meaning is supposedly manifested by racial differences which we believe are constitutive of what kind of human we are, if indeed allows that others are truly human. In the pages you are holding, race is examined not as a historical truth, but as a moment in the history of truth. This essay is an investigation into the scientific classification of human variety. It is an attempt to recover a past which has been forgotten or repressed by the very sciences of life and society whose origins are to be found in these forgotten errors.

To examine human variety in terms of the history of truth, requires that we understand the history of modern science and the history of race as inwoven histories. Does this mean that science is racist? Such a question rightly sounds absurd, but not for the reasons that the defenders of the privileges of scientific knowledge and the power of science would like us to believe, nor does the simplicity of the question negate its seriousness. To be sure a few scientists actively embrace racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., but the question is not whether science is racist. A more concrete question is: how does race function as a 'scientific ideology'? How has it successfully functioned as a scientific ideology for so long a time despite the considerable efforts that have been undertaken to make it a part of normal science. Race is a powerful expression of the attempt to fix the meaning of life and to determine its value. From their beginning, the human sciences have sought the fixed, unchanging meaning behind human diversity. Until Darwin, this meaning was not discussed in our terms of biological and cultural diversity because the naturalists did not think in those terms. Instead, what stood before them was not biology and culture but essentially one object of study which they understood as a history that was the playing out or unfolding of immanent and often racial determinations ---evolution as understood the preformist sense of the word. An acorn, as the old saying went, can only become an oak.

Historically, the language of race and the language of science reveal a continuity, even if the politics of this continuity is in constant flux. But the ability of science to fix ---however unstable and temporary this might be - the classification of human variety has contributed mightily to the establishment of the authority of science of life in our understanding the truth about human nature and society. The authority of science to construct the degenerate, the criminal, the genius, and the sexes as objects of knowledge is an authority intertwined with the scientific ideology of race and the administration of authority. This essay is an investigation into race only in so far as race exists as a scientific ideology which are, in effect, truths that are never quite true. i

One of many places to contribute to a broad project on the scientific study of human variety is the critical inquiry into the scientific classifications of human variety. One does this knowing that this is a question whose subject constantly refers it back to itself. One can not escape creating classifications at the same time that one undertakes a critical study of fundamental systems of classification. Nevertheless, the task here is not to develop a theory of race, but to ruthlessly critique race as a scientific ideology. This makes the investigation of the history of classifications and their place in scientific ideology absolutely necessary to our obsession with finding the meaning of race.


The history of science is the victim of a classification that simply it accepts, whereas the real problem is to discover why the classification exists, that is, to undertake a ‘critical history of classifications’. To accept without criticism a division of knowledge into disciplines prior to the ‘historical process’ in which those disciplines develop is to succumb to an ‘ideology’.ii
It is not that race is prior to class, sex or gender, nor is it a more essential foundation to the classification of human variety. We might have found all manner of differences on which to base our producing of human types and we have clearly used gender, class, and other cultural differences To argue for the priority of racial classifications would be to re-inscribe the hierarchy that we should be attempting to make uninhabitable. A critical investigation of the many classifications of human variety discloses the history of scientific attempts to establish race. It is a history that should unsettle our most basic assumptions about both race and science. Certainly, nothing less than our faith in an immutable identity is called into question. At the same time, the manner in which science has described race and used it as a means to understand humans calls into question its own authority. ‘The obsolete is condemned in the name of truth and objectivity. But what is now obsolete was once considered objectively true. Truth must submit itself to criticism and possible refutation or there is no science’.iii The process by which we come to place a value on race rests within a hierarchical classification of bodies, attributes, truths, and institutions. While classification is necessary for any production of knowledge, systems of classification also constrict and set the borders of acceptable knowledge. By investigating the scientific classification of human variety, we can begin to dismantle one of the ideological truths which we have since internalized and naturalized. This essay is not concerned with denouncing the disciplines or reproaching them for their errors. Any discipline rests upon its particular regimes of truth: the ‘report, naming, the narration of a Beginning, but also presentation, confirmation, explanation’.iv Often, this includes how a genius lived, a discovery was made, or a theory’s predicted outcome was put to the test and resulted in a group of texts that established both an entire horizon of knowledge and the mythical history of the discipline itself. In contrast to this, the perspective that ‘[c]lassification is a condition of knowledge, not knowledge itself, and knowledge in turn dissolves classification’v neatly captures the process by which the Natural History and political economy became the disciplines of biology and society.

Smedley argued that "the identification of race with a breeding line or stock of animals carries with it certain implications for how Europeans came to view human groups."vi The very use of the term race placed an emphasis on innateness, on the unchanging and unalterable in humans. ‘The term ‘race’ made possible an easy analogy of inheritable and unchangeable features from breeding animals to human beings’.vii The morphology and behavior of humans defined and explained the animal as much, if not more, than the morphology and behavior of the animal explained the human. Race now served as a foundation for creating a new creature: "the European." As a category for classifying humans within a general classificatory chart or Table of Nature, race has had varied and contradictory meanings. It was not the case that new principles of biology were applied to society, but that nature became social at the same time that the social became natural. The belief that they constituted each other took on new meaning after humans were placed in the world by Linne, Cuvier, Darwin and Marx. If the cause of human variety could be found, it would be the explanation for the variety of nature. It is also true that insights gained from animal husbandry could be used to explain human variety. These tendencies are common in the work of Natural History that took ‘the species question’ as a central object of study.viii Indeed, from Natural History to biology, the quest to solve the species question was organized on the generally accepted assumption of multiple contemporary human species. The definition of species, a concept so central to the development of modern scientific thought, was determined within the context of the search for the origins of human variety.


It is not so much that race pervades everything, but that race is one mode of an all pervasive bio-social discourse. Race is said to speak through the living being, who is subordinate to the truth of race. In so speaking, race could be said to pervade the social relations of everyday life: master/slave; creditor/debtor; capitalist/worker; parent/child; etc. But to naturalize race in such a way gives weight to an empty concept and distracts us away from the apparatus of knowledge that speaks through and to race. This bio-social knowledge unites a) discourses on nature and life such as Natural History, biology, medicine, ecology, and their systems of classification; b) discourses on the forces of life, which are of two kinds: first the rational forces of Enlightenment ---like the universals of History, Consciousness, and Reason---and second, the irrational forces of the instincts, the mob, the anarchy of the social relations of capital, and the masses; c) discourses on the stability of society, or social inertia, such as the sociological writings on stability, progress, and degeneration. One might even hazard at this point to again use the word ideology.ix Beneath the argument in this essay is the assumption of a close relationship of authority and scientific ideologies. In one sense, the reader can take away from this work the most timid proposal, that scientific ideologies matter, that they have real effects in the world, and that they are a part of the social relations they describe. A critical analysis that addresses scientific ideology would be impossible if ideology was not located in the materiality of everyday life, i.e., if it did not find expression in the materiality of social relations. What could express this more than the taxonomy of ourselves? What better than the classification of human variety that unites Camper’s finding of beauty in the facial angle with your sideways glance at the suspicious or ‘out of place’ person walking through your neighborhood?

Chapter One delves into the importance of the Species Question itself and the singular importance the riddle of human variety held in its investigation. The question of the existence of species and their origins would be decided by first solving the problem of human variety. It was believed that human variety held the key to understanding why variety existed in Nature in general. We would finally know the reasons for our many differences in physiology, language, and progress towards civilization. Monogenism and the fixity of species had a uneasy coexistence when variety was obvious to any observer and needed explanation.

Chapter Two traces the shift from monogenism to polygenism, or the theory of multiple origins, i.e., the theory that each race originated at a different time and in a geographically isolated and unique locale. The monogenic theories were widely supported and derived most of this support from their seeming agreement with the Book of Genesis. Polygenic theories, on the other hand, were common amongst those who disputed the truthfulness of the Biblical creation story and who were busy building the first respected scientific theory of human origins from the new world. The popular height of the polygenic theory was the publication of Josiah Nott and George Gliddon’s Types of Mankind. Types of Mankind was a tribute to their friend and teacher Samuel J. Morton as well as an open repudiation of religion in favor of free scientific investigation. Such investigation lead them to proclaim that the polygenic origins of human variety. This chapter gives a general discussion of the American School and an account of the brief period before Darwin when polygenism was the predominate scientific theory of the origins and meaning of human variety. This theory falls before Darwin's explanation for a common origin of humans and the chapter which follows puts Darwin in the context of the species question and his intervention against the monogenic/polygenic discourses. Darwin’s title is itself an acknowledgment of the species question. It is suggested that when seen in the historical context of slavery and civil war, Darwin produced a sharp break not merely with polygenic theory, but with the entire discourse between the supporters of polygenic and monogenic theories. Darwin, it is argued, sought to not only to produce a new scientific truth, but also to put an end to the current scientific discourse on human origins: ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death’x.....

....But these general statements on continuity are not particularly insightful or original, for it is a commonplace of our time that the question of chronology receives much serious analysis. Nor can these statements tell the story of how human variety came to be understood according to racial types. Pliny's ‘prodigious’ humans are humans. They are not deviations, degenerates, or deformities, nor are they the result of hybridization, etc. They are not signs or omens, representations or divine favor or wrath, etc. This is a fundamentally different conception of human variety from the Christian one. Monsters marked the limit of Nature, but prodigious varieties did not. What Marx found in capital Pliny found in nature: that the process of accumulation and reproduction marks its own limit.

In Aristotle's works human variety was not a defining characteristic of a particular historical period. The ambition was to define and classify humans through the doubled relation between polis and nature, and between humans and nature. It does not minimize this double relation to recognize that the social relations of master and slave is seen as fixed and permanent and allows race to take on a transhistorical presence, for a slave is now born to be a slave, and the master a master. The everyday social relation between humans in a polis transcends its material basis and comes to stand for all human relationships. On this point Marx and Nietzsche agree: a fundamental social relationship is that of creditor/debtor, and that this relationship has a history that could be excavated through critical and genealogical approaches. The basic social bond that we bring to light is all to often one of cruelty and cooperation - because breaking or transvaluing the already given social relation reproduces the same cruelty that brought it into existence in the first place.i The return of the repressed appears in its most concrete form: the cruelty of the relation never disappears, it simply comes to appear as nature itself, or as the very definition of what is natural in terms of human nature. Nature comes to embody the cruelty found in the State and in Nature and vis versa. ‘The welding of a hitherto unchecked and shapeless populace into a firm form was not only instituted by an act of violence but also carried to its conclusion by nothing but acts of violence---that the oldest ‘state’ thus appeared as a fearful tyranny, as an oppressive and remorseless machine, and went on working until this raw material of people and semi-animals was at last not only thoroughly kneaded and pliant, but also formed’.ii The relationship of slavery to our understanding of human variety is just one specific instance of the broader apparatus of cruelty and cooperation.iii

The complexity of its subject makes a work such as this one difficult and its conclusions ultimately tentative until such time as others take up the task. There are some similarities and alliances that one might expect, but there are also many that are surprising or ironic. What we can definitely say is that this complex arrangement of discourses and institutions producing ---and produced by--- the knowledge of human variety teems with continuities, discontinuities, dialectics, fanciful speculations, frauds, empirical observations, measurements, and classifications. At the very least we can conclude that out of this emerged the authority of the sciences of life and society: biology and sociology as the true sciences of Enlightenment. The assumption underlying this work is that the true meaning of human variety and its origins are like the Ghosts of Africa mentioned by Pliny at the end of his catalog of the notable varieties. He describes them as the species of human that vanish when approached.

The complete text of this chapter can be found at: 
 

i ‘Scientific ideologies are explanatory systems that stray beyond their own borrowed norms of scientificity’. This is precisely why the history of science is really about the history of truth and error, and not falsity or false consciousness. ‘Scientific ideology is not to be confused with false science, magic, or religion. Like them, it derives its impetus from an unconscious need for direct access to the totality of being, but it is a belief that squints at an already instituted science whose prestige it recognizes and whose style it seeks to imitate’. Which is to say that a scientific ideology will persist until such time as an adjacent discipline demonstrates its potential contribution to ---and alignment with --- an established disciplinary knowledge. G. Canguilhem, Rationality and Ideology in the History of the Life Sciences (Cambridge: MIT Press 1989), p. 38.
ii M. Serres in Canguilhem, Rationality and Ideology in the History of the Life Sciences, p. 34.
iii Canguilhem, Rationality and Ideology in the History of the Life Sciences, p. 39.
iv M. Horkheimer and T. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: philosophical fragments (1947) (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 8.
v M. Horkheimer and T. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, p. 182.
vi A. Smedley, Race in North America: origin and evolution of a worldview, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), p. 40.
vii A. Smedley, Race in North America: origin and evolution of a worldview, p. 40.
viii ‘The questions before us at this time are – 1. What is a species? 2. Are species permanent? 3. What is the basis of variations in species?’ J.D. Dana, ‘Thoughts on Species’, American Journal of Science and Arts, 24 (1857), pp. 305-316, on p. 305.
ix Ideology is not merely the symbolic re-presentation of social production; it is present in every moment in the process of production and accumulation, in every movement, thought, sound, and gesture. Ideology is found in the discourses, technologies, and moralities of everyday life produced by the social relations of capital. The mystification of social conflicts lies in the production and commodification of desire in everyday life, since part of capitalist social production is given over to the production of desire itself (Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment 1969[1944]). Desire, especially the desire for one's own repression, is a social relation located "in the particular social character of the labor that produces them" (K. Marx, Capital, Volume One (New York: Penguin Classics, 1967), p.77.
x Darwin, Descent of Man, 1998 [1874]:188.

....
i K. Marx, Capital, pp. 439-454.
ii F. Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morals [and] Ecce Homo (1887-1888), ed. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale ( New York: Vintage Books. 1969), p. 86.
iii B. R. Brown, ‘City without Walls: Notes on Terror and Terrorism’, Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination, 2:1 (2007), pp. 53-82.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

John James Audubon meets John Bachman: "there is much to be expressed and understood by a shake of the hand...."


Audubon recounts meeting John Bachman for the first time: "there is much to be expressed and understood by a shake of the hand...."

Audubon was much taken from the first meeting of the Rev John Bachman, a prominent Lutheran Cleryman and one of the foremost naturalists in America.  Below is an excerpt from Audubon's Delineations of American scenery and character where he recounts this meeting with Bachman.  Audubon does not mention just how close the families would become, with Bachman's daughters marrying Audubon's sons, Maria Martin Bachman painting many of the backgrounds for Audubon's Birds of America, and Audubon naming several species in honor of his dear friend including the now extinct Bachman's Warbler.
The Charleston County Public Library has an excellent series on the Audubon, Bachman, and Natural History in Charleston.  Posts on this blog related to Audubon, John Bachman, and Maria Martin Bachman include:

A Short Biography of John Bachman (1790-1874)
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2011/07/short-biography-of-john-bachman-1790.html
Audubon's Birds and some often Overlooked Contributions of Women to Natural History
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2010/12/audubons-birds-and-some-often.html

A brief additional note to Audubon's Birds and some often Overlooked Contributions of Women to Natural History
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2010/12/brief-additional-note-to-audubons-birds.html

Maria Martin Bachman's sketches and paintings for Audubon: On-line Exhibition from the Charleston County Public Library
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2011/02/maria-martin-bachmans-sketches-and.html
Review of America’s Other Audubon (Brain Pickings Blog)
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2012/07/review-of-americas-other-audubon-brain.html

Podcast - Charleston's Women Naturalists: Jennifer Scheetz, Archivist, Charleston Museum
http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/2012/04/podcast-charlestons-women-naturalists.html


So, enjoy this meeting of two of the foremost naturalists of their day.


We now proceeded swiftly down the broad Chesapeake Bay, reached Norfolk, and removing into another steamer bound to the capital of Virgina, soon arrived at Richmond. Having made acquaintance, many years before, in Kentucky, with the governor of that State, the Honourable John Floyd, I went directly to him, was received in the kindest manner, and furnished with letters of introduction; after which we proceeded southward until we arrived at Charleston, in South Carolina. It was there that I formed an acquaintance, now matured into a highly valued friendship, with the Rev. John Bachman, a proficient in general science, and particularly in zoology and botany, and one whose name you will often meet with in the course of my biographies. But I cannot refrain from describing to you my first interview with this generous friend, and mentioning a few of the many pleasures I enjoyed under his hospitable roof, and in the company of his most interesting family and connections.

It was late in the afternoon when we took our lodgings in Charleston. Being fatigued, and having written the substance of my journey to my family, and delivered a letter to the Rev. Mr. Gilman, I retired to rest. At the first glimpse of day the following morning, my assistants and myself were already several miles from the city, commencing our search in the fields and woods, and having procured abundance of subjects, both for the pencil and the scalpel, we returned home, covered with mud, and so accoutred as to draw towards us the attention of every person in the streets. As we approached the boarding-house, I observed a gentleman on horseback close to our door. He looked at me, came up, inquired if my name was Audubon, and on being answered in the affirmative, instantly leaped from his saddle, shook me most cordially by the hand— there is much to be expressed and understood by a shake of the hand—and questioned me in so kind a manner, that I for a while felt doubtful how to reply. At his urgent desire, I removed to his house, as did my assistants. Suitable apartments were assigned to us, and once introduced to the lovely and interesting group that composed his family, I seldom passed a day without enjoying their society. Servants, carriages, horses, and dogs, were all at our command, and friends accompanied us to the woods and plantations, and formed parties for water excursions. Before I left Charleston, I was truly sensible of the noble and generous spirit of the hospitable Carolinians.
Having sailed for the Floridas, we, after some delay, occasioned by adverse winds, put into a harbour near St. Simon's Island, where I was so fortunate as to meet with Thomas Butler King, Esq., who, after replenishing our provision-stores, subscribed to the "Birds of America." At length we were safely landed at St. Augustine, and commenced our investigation. Of my sojourn in Florida, during the winter of 1831-32, you will find some account in this volume. Returning to Charleston, we passed through Savannah, respecting my short stay in which city you will also find some particulars in the sequel. At Charleston we lived with my friend Bachman, and continued our occupations. In the beginning of April, through the influence of letters from the Honourable Lewis M'Lean, of the Treasury Department, and the prompt assistance of Colonel J. Pringle, we went on board the revenue cutter, the "Marion," commanded by Robert Day, Esq., to whose friendly attention I am greatly indebted for the success which I met with in my pursuits, during his cruise along the dangerous coast of East Florida, and amongst the islets that every where rise from the surface of the ocean, like gigantic waterlilies. At Indian Key, the Deputy-Collector, Mr. Thruston, afforded me important aid; and at Key West I enjoyed the hospitality of Major Glassel, his officers and their families, as well as of my friend Dr. Benjamin Strobel, and other inhabitants of that singular island, to all of whom I now sincerely offer my best thanks for the pleasure which their society afforded me, and the acquisitions which their ever ready assistance enabled me to make.
Having examined every part of the coast which it was the duty of the commander of the Marion to approach, we returned to Charleston with our numerous prizes, and shortly afterwards I bent my course eastward, anxious to keep pace with the birds during their migrations. With the assistance of my friend Bachman, I now procured for my assistant, Mr. Ward, a situation of ease and competence, in the Museum of the Natural History Society of Charleston, and Mr. Lehman returned to his home. At Philadelphia I was joined by my family, and once more together we proceeded towards Boston. That dreadful scourge the cholera was devastating the land, and spreading terror around its course. We left Philadelphia under its chastising hand, and arrived at New York, where it was raging, while a heavy storm that suddenly burst over our heads threw an additional gloom over the devoted city, already bereft of a great part of her industrious inhabitants. After spending a day with our good friends and relatives, we continued our journey, and arrived at Boston....

Audubon, John James.  Delineations of American scenery and character; with an introduction by Francis Hobart Herrick.  New York: G.A. Baker & Company, 1926.
http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b4363496

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The "American School": A brief timeline of the Monogenist/Polygenist Debate.



Chronology
1809
12 February Darwin is born in Shrewsbury, England, the son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. The same day as the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

1831
Darwin meets Captain Robert FitzRoy and makes preparations for the voyage. Begins Beagle diary.

Rev John Bachman meets James Audubon and begins a life-long friendship and collaboration.

Bachman's wife Maria Martin becomes Audubon's assistant and paints many of the backgrounds, plants, and insects used in Birds of North America.

1832
In mid-January, Beagle reaches St Jago, Cape Verde Islands. Darwin begins the field notebooks that he will continue to use throughout his life. From February 1832 to May 1834 the Beagle surveys the east coast of South America.

1834
Early part of the year is spent surveying in Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. April to May Darwin and Fitz-Roy travel inland along the River Santa Cruz. From June 1834 to September 1835 the Beagle surveys the west coast of South America.

1835
Beagle departs Lima, Darwin spends 16 September to 20 October exploring the Galapagos Archipelago, then traveled on to spend November in Tahiti and New Zealand.

1836
Beagle drops anchor at Falmouth, England, on October 2 and on October 4 Darwin returns home to Shrewsbury. Begins to publish scientific papers.

1837
George Gliddon and Samuel G. Morton begin corresponding. Gliddon obtains several specimens for Morton's work.

Darwin publishes The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1838-43). In July begins his first notebook on the transmutation of species.

1839
Samuel G. Morton, Crania Americana; or a Comparative view of the Skulls of various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America; to which is prefixed an essay on the Varieties of the Human Species (Philadelphia, 1839)

George Combe, Notes on the United States of America during a Phrenological Visit in 1838-1840.

Darwin marries Emma Wedgwood on 29 January; publishes Journal of Researches, later known as Voyage of the Beagle. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

1840
Based upon many errors, the US Census suggests that Negroes are prone to violence and insanity in the North. Despite many efforts of Jarvis to correct the results, Secretary of State John C. Calhoun prevents any challenges and the results remain official. The attempts to overturn the Census result in the founding of the American Statistical Association.

1840-1852
Gliddon undertakes a series of widely popular lectures on Egyptology around the United States using a 800 foot long moving backdrop and many artifacts.

1841
Samuel G. Morton, “Distinctive Characteristics of the Aboriginal Man of America,”Annual Address before the Boston Society of Natural History.

George R Gliddon, Ancient Egypt: a series of chapters on early Egyptian history, archaeology, and other subjects connected with hieroglyphical literature.

1844
Samuel G. Morton, Crania Ægyptiaca; or Observations on Egyptian Ethnography, derived from History and the Monuments, dedicate to Gliddon.

Darwin expands an early sketch of the theory of natural selection into a longer essay. He writes a note to Emma Darwin requesting that this essay should be published if he should die unexpectedly, providing some funds as well as the names of possible editors.

1845
Josiah Nott, “On the Pathology of Yellow Fever,” American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 9, new series, 277-293. Nott argues that those “hybrids” of “mixed” race are less likely to contract Yellow fever than Whites or Negroes.

Josiah Priest. Slavery, as it relates to the Negro... and Causes of his State of Servitude ... with strictures on Abolitionism.

Rev. John Bachman, having newly taken over as minister, actively recruits African Americans to join St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston. Black membership reaches 200. A segregated Sunday School for African-Americans is established with 150 pupils and 30 teachers and staff.

1846
Josiah Nott, “Unity of the Human Race,” Southern Quarterly Review, January 1846.

Louis Agassiz arrives in Boston.

1847
Louis Agassiz in Charleston.

Thomas S. Savage and Jeffries Wyman. "Notice of the External Characteristics and Habits of Trolodytes Gorilla, A New Species of Orang from the Gaboon River." Boston Journal of Natural History. The first anatomical description of a gorilla in the United States, compares its anatomy with that of the Caucasian and the Negro. 

1848
Charles Pickering, a supporter of the polygenic theory, publishes The Races of Mankind and their Geographical Distribution.

Josiah Nott, “Yellow Fever Contrasted with Billious Fever --- Reason for Believing it a Disease of Sui Generis... Probably Insect or Animalcular Origin,” New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal. Nott correctly suggests that Yellow Fever is transmitted by an insect.

E. George Squire and Edwin Hamilton Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations.

1849
Josiah Nott, Two Lectures on the Connection Between the Biblical and Physical History of Man Nott advances the polygenic argument against Biblical authority and for what he called “free scientific inquiry.”

George Robins Gliddon, Handbook to the American panorama of the Nile: being the original transparent picture exhibited in London at Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, purchased from its painter and proprietors, Messrs. H. Warren, J. Bonomi and J. Fahey.

John Bachman and John J. Audubon, Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.

1850
Louis Agassiz, “The Diversity of Origin of Human Races” Christian Examiner XVIII.

Josiah Nott, “Ancient and Scriptural Chronology” Southern Quarterly Review.

De Bow, “Physical Characteristics of the Negro" De Bow’s Review IX.

1851
De Bow, “Diversity of the Human Race,” DeBow's Review X.

Samuel G. Morton, “Value of the Word Species in Zoology,” American Journal of Science and Arts11, 2nd Series, 275-276, 1851.

Josiah Nott, An Essay on the Natural History of Mankind, Viewed in Connection with Negro Slavery (Mobile, 1851).

Herbert Spencer, originator of the term “survival of the fittest” and advocate of cosmic evolution, publishes his Social Statics.

Samuel G. Morton dies.

John James Audubon dies.

1853
Josiah Nott, “Geographical Distributions of Animals and the Races of Man” New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, IX

John H. Van Evrie, M.D., Negroes and Negro “Slavery”; the first an Inferior Race --- the Latter, its Normal Condition. (Baltimore, 1853)

Josiah Nott “Aboriginal Races of America” Southern Quarterly VIII 1854 - 1855

Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon. 1855. Types of Mankind: or, Ethnological Researches, based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological and Biblical history:/ illustrated by selections from the inedited papers of Samuel George Morton ... and by additional contributions from Prof. L. Agassiz, LL. D., W. Usher, M. D., and Prof. H. S. Patterson.

John Bachman, “Types of Mankind.” Review, Charleston Medical Journal, IX

1856
Samuel F. Haven, Archaeology of the United States; or Sketches, Historical and Bibliographical, of the Progress of Information and Opinion respecting the Vestiges of Antiquity in the United States. Smithsonian Institution.

1856 - 1857
Darwin begins writing up his views for a projected big book called 'Natural Selection'.

Louis Agassiz, Essay on Classification.

Josiah C. Nott, George R. Gliddon, and Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury, Indigenous races of the earth; or, New chapters of ethnological inquiry; including monographs on special departmentsPhiladelphia, J. B. Lippincott & co.

George Gliddon dies.

1858
Josiah Nott translates and publishes the first English edition of Gobineau’s Essay on the Inequality of the Races.

1859
Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It will go through six editions in Darwin's lifetime.

Newberry College, a liberal arts college in Newberry, S.C., is founded by Rev. John Bachman

1860
Rev. John Bachman leads the opening prayer at Institute Hall in Charleston as South Carolina votes for secession. Though opposed to secession and a social reformer in terms of slavery, Bachman fiercely defended the South and lambasted profiteering in wartime writings for South and North Carolina newspapers.

Josiah Nott admits that Darwin's theory is correct and that the polygenic theory has been refuted, but says that “at least it [Darwin's theory] is a capital dig at the parsons.”

At his church in Charleston, Bachman baptizes 67 Euro-Americans & 76 African-Americans and confirms 19 Euro- Americans and 40 African-Americans; African-Americans now constitute 35% of the membership of St. John's Lutheran Church.

1861
Attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, begins Civil War.

John Bachman and Josiah Nott would both lose sons fighting in the opposing armies.

1863
Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln.

1864
John Bachman, Characteristics of Genera and Species, as Applicable to the Doctrine of Unity in the Human Race.

1865
Sherman begins his March to the Sea.

Charleston is evacuated and later is destroyed. Bachman attempts to move his collections and his wife's work to Newberry College for safe-keeping. Most are lost in the destruction of Charleston. Bachman is severely beaten when he encounters a detachment of Union soldiers and left partially paralyzed.

The Civil War ends.

John James Audubon and Rev. John Bachman, The Quadrupeds of North America.

1871
Charles Darwin publishes The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.

1873
Louis Agassiz dies.

Josiah Nott dies.

1874
Rev. John Bachman dies, supposedly saying at the end: “Little children... love one another.” He is buried under the alter of St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston.

1882
Charles Darwin dies at Down House on April 19 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. His supposed last words were "I am not in the least afraid to die."

Syllabus for Science and the Origins of Race (SS.490), Fall 2014

 
Syllabus for Science and the Origins of Race (SS.490), Fall 2014

 
  
Science and the Origins of Race
School of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies
Course number/section: SS.435
Credits: 3
Day & Time: Thursday, 2:00pm – 4:50pm
Meeting Place: North Hall 114

B. Ricardo Brown, Ph. D.
Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies

Office Location: Dekalb 419
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30 -1:50pm
Office Phone number: 1.718.636.3600 ext. 2709
Appropriate times to call: 12:30-1:50pm or by appointment
Email: BBRow993@pratt.du
URL: http://node801.org
Course blog: http://until-darwin.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UntilDarwin/

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Bulletin Description:
We often understand race as it confronts us today: as a source of diversity and multiculturalism or as a source of social problems and conflicts.  This is not surprising given that for many people racism is a social fact of everyday life.  However, racism presupposes the existence of Race, of something so essential to us that it orders social life, is visibly manifested by our bodies, and that these societies and human beings  are fixed in their differences.  Race began as a scientific concept within Natural History, but one with far reaching connections to nationalism, sexuality, industrialism, slavery, and authority.  This class will investigate the many scientific discourses on race through the debates on the origin of species, whether races represent different species of humans (the monogenesis/polygenesis dispute in Antebellum America), phrenology, criminal anthropology, eugenics, and degeneration.  Throughout the semester, you will be prompted to apply what we are learning to a discussion of contemporary society.

Long Description
The Sociology of Science and the Origins of Race
We often try to understand race as it confronts us today, either as a source of diversity and multiculturalism or as a social problem. This is not surprising given the fact that racism is a historical production and so today we still exist amidst its' vast accumulation. But racism presupposes the existence of Race, of something so essential to us that it is visibly manifested by our bodies, and these manifestations fall into a limited number of scientifically defined types. Race began as a scientific concept within the discourse of Natural History, but with far reaching connections to nationalism, sexuality, industrialism, and authoritarianism. To place our contemporary discussion of human variety into a historical context, this class will investigate the history of scientific discourses on race from Blumenbach’s classification of humanity into the five familiar races, to Gobineau’s Essay of the Inequality of Human Races, the Social Darwinists, and Thomas Dugdale’s The Jukes, a classic study of degeneration in fin de sciel upstate New York. Along the way, we will examine the debate on the origin of species, whether races represent different species of humans (the monogenesis/polygenesis dispute in Antebellum America), phrenology, intelligence testing, criminal anthropology, the culture of poverty, and degeneration. Throughout the semester, we will apply what we are learning to the discussion of contemporary ideas and conflicts regarding race and racism.

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Course Goals

This course will:

A. introduce and familiarize students with the history of scientific theories regarding the source of human variety, the most prominent one being that of Race.

B. provide students an social and intellectual context for understanding the development of racial theories and their far-reaching implications in many branches of knowledge

C. expose students to the range of interpretations of the meaning of race in the sociology and history of science.

D. deepen students understanding of the continuities and discontinuities of the sciences of life and society.

E. present students with the means to understand how science relates to power and how power relates to social conflicts and social problems.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of this semester, students will:

A. demonstrate a knowledge of the the history of attempts by naturalists and scientists to understand and give meaning to race as a means to understand variation in humans and, ultimately, nature itself.

B. recognize and contrast important persons and concepts in Natural History, Biology, and the social sciences.

B. understand and critique the sources of some of our most fundamental social and political questions regarding race and society.

C. interpret and analyze contemporary “racial” disputes and the politics of genetics in the context of their knowledge of the history of scientific theories of race.

D. identify how the disputes over the scientific meaning of race infused many key concepts in the social sciences.

E. demonstrate an ability to analyze and interpret concepts and events in the history of sociology, psychology, Natural History, and biology.

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Course Requirements

Short Reading Responses:
Three short reading responses are required. The due dates are indicated in the course schedule. These responses are 5 or should you choose, more pages (about 1200-1500 words). Each response will consist of the following:
  1. Discussion of the author’s mode of argumentation. Does it vary between texts or is it consistent? How would you characterize the way in which the author argues? Who do you think is the audience for the text?
  2. A general outline of the arguments and a brief discussion of the important concepts that you found in the readings. Discuss any aspects of the texts that might have changed your way of thinking about the author/works.
  3. What you see as the relation between this author/texts and those of the others we are reading this semester?
Remember, keep in mind as you read:
  1. The author’s style of arguing and how he constructs his argument.
  1. How he describes and defends key elements of his theory.
  1. How, if called upon, you might characterize his style of argument and writing?

Self-Evaluation
At the end of the course you may submit a 1-2 page statement evaluating your own performance and your assessment of what you believe to be a fair final grade. The self-evaluation may account for as much as 5% of your final grade

Class Participation
Education is not a one way street and we can not expect to simply passively receive knowledge unless we expect to live a passive life. All students should come to class prepared to discuss the reading to the best of their ability. Class participation will account for 5% of your final grade.

Absences and Lateness
Persistent absences or lateness will result in a reduction of your final grade by as much as 10%.
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Readings
The readings for the class will be drawn from a wide variety of sources. The primary texts that you will want to purchase for this course are:

Gossett, Thomas. 1997 [1963]. Race: the History of an Idea in America. Oxford University Press, 2nd edition. ISBN: 0195097785

Gould, Stephen Jay. 1996. The Mismeasure of Man. 2nd Revised Edition. New York, W. W. Norton. ISBN: 0393314251

Appleman, Philip, ed. 1979. Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 3rd edition. ISBN: 0393958493
It is suggested that you also purchase or obtain through the library:

Brown, B. Ricardo. 2010. Until Darwin: Science, Human Variety, and the Origins of Race. London: Pickering and Chatto.

George Canguilhem. 1988 [1977]. Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN-13: 978-0262031370

Mosse, George L. 1985. Toward the Final Solution: A History of European Racism. New York: Howard Fertig. ISBN: 0865274282

Max Nordau. 1993 [1892]. Degeneration. With Introduction by George L. Mosse. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Wailoo, Keith, Alondra Nelson, and Catherine Lee. 2012. Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Suggested sources for purchasing the readings:
Book Culture http://
The Advanced Book Exchange http://www.abebooks.com
Barnes and Nobles http://www.bn.com
St. Marks Bookstop http://www.stmarksbookshop.com
The Strand second-hand store on 12th street http://www.strandbooks.com
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Outline of the Course of Study
Week I. Introduction to the Course

Week II. Race before Enlightenment: Natural History, Human Variety, and the Classification of Nature
Thomas Gossett. “Early Race Theories” in Race: the History of an Idea in America, pp.3-17.

Week III. The Question of the Origin of Species & the “Regular Gradation in Man”
Gavin De Beer. “Biology before Darwin” in Appleman, pp. 3-10.
Charles Darwin. “An Historical Sketch of the Progress of Opinion on The Origin of Species, Previously to the Publication of This Work” in Appleman, pp. 19-27.
Stephen J. Gould.”Age-old fallacies of thinking and stinking,” from The Mismeasure of Man, pp. 391-399.
Stephen J. Gould. “Racial geometry,” and “The moral state of Tahiti – and of Darwin,” from The Mismeasure of Man, pp. 401-412.

Week IV. The Question Concerning the Origin of Species: The American School Monogenesis vs. Polygenesis FIRST READING RESPONSE DUE
Stephen J. Gould. “American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin” from The Mismeasure of Man, pp. 62-104.
B. Ricardo Brown. “Polygenesis and the Types of Mankind” from Until Darwin, pp. 59-98.

Week V. The Origin Of Species and The Descent of Man
Charles Darwin. “Recapitulation and Conclusions” from The Origin of Species, and selections from The Dissent of Man in Appleman, pp. 43-88, 108-131, 187-210.

Week VI. The Sciences of Life and Man
Thomas Gossett. “Race and Social Darwinism” from Race: the History of an Idea in America, pp. 144-175.

Week VII. Degeneracy
Max Nordau. “The fin de sciel” in Degeneration, pp. 1-40.
Degenerate Art (Documentary film in class)

Week VIII. Criminal Anthropology
SECOND READING RESPONSE DUE
Stephen J. Gould. “Measuring Bodies: Two Case Studies on the Apishness of Undesirables” from The Mismeasure of Man, pp. 141-175.

Week IX.
Thomas Gossett. “Nineteenth Century Anthropology” from Race: the History of an Idea in America, pp.54-83.
The Anthropologist (Documentary Film in class)

Week X.
Thomas Gossett. “Teutonic Origins Theory,” and “Study of Language and Literature,” from Race, the History of an Idea, pp. 84-143.
Michael Wood. Hitler’s Search for the Holy Grail (Documentary film in class)
Week XI.
Lundy Braun and Evelynn Hammonds. “The Dilemma of Classification: The Past in the Present” in Wailoo, Nelson, and Lee, Genetics and the Unsettled Past, pp.67-80.
The First Americans? (Documentary Film in class)

Week XII. The Germ-Plasm and Racial Destiny
George Canguilhem. 1988 [1977]. “On the History of the Life Sciences Since Darwin” from Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences, pp. 103-124.

Week XIII. Eugenics
Daniel J. Kevles. 1995. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, pp. 3-20, 70-112, 129-148.
Peter A. Chow-White. “The Informationalization of Race: Communication, Databases, and the Digital Coding of the Genome” in in Wailoo, Nelson, and Lee, Genetics and the Unsettled Past, pp. 81-103.
Final Essay Question Distributed

Week XIV. The Floating Signifier
Stuart Hall. Race, the Floating Signifier. Video of lecture.

Week XV. Review and Discussion: What have we learned so far?
FINAL READING RESPONSE DUE