Assembled Identity: Blog

  • Scientific Racism and Franz Boas

    Posted by
    Kristin M

    “If we were to select the most intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable third of mankind, all races would be present. The existence of any pure race with special endowments is a myth, as is the belief that there are races whose members are foredoomed to eternal inferiority.” – Dr. Franz Boas


    Largely popular from the late 1800s to the end of World War II, "scientific racism" employed multiple disciplines including anthropology, craniometry, and anthropometry to support the classification of human populations into superior and inferior races. This form of pseudo-science deeply influenced South African apartheid, Nazi Germany racial policy, and segregation in America. Today, the term mostly describes research that's used to justify racist ideology. Boas is considered the founder of modern anthropology, and much of his work hinged upon disproving the idea that many of the physical features used to support scientific racism were actually more affected by environment. 


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