final - Gahimbare 1 HIST 100 Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare...

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Gahimbare 1 HIST 100: Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare 15:28:00 The debate over the origins of race and which types of races existed was conducted by 18 th century philosophers and anthropologists who greatly influenced racial ideals in their time . Even though their ideas were immature, naïve and lacked strong scientific evidence, it is still interesting to observe how they adopted each others ideas to form their own claims about race . Furthermore, because those anthropologists and philosophers were so influential in their time, it is possible that they even influenced the actions of European slave traders and fueled the beginning of racial and non-racial oppression . This will be shown by analyzing the works of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (and others like him) and noting how their harmless references to racial pride stimulated the national oppression between the English and the Irish and eventually led to the beginning of racial oppression during the slave trade era . In The Idea of Race , Johann Friedrich Blumenbach starts his argument by stating the different races he believes exist: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American and Malay (27) . Blumenbach immediately makes it apparent to the reader that his statement is racially favoring Caucasians by stating that they are the primeval race . In the next few pages, he does a fine job of describing the phenotypes of each race . He uses colorful and gentle adjectives such as rosy cheeks, chestnut-colored hair and smooth forehead in order to describe the Caucasian race (28) . On that same page, Blumenbach continues his racial favoritism towards the Caucasians by stating, “In general, that kind of appearance which, according to our opinion of symmetry, we consider most handsome
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Gahimbare 2 and becoming .” It is important to notice that Blumenbach is indirectly making the point that Caucasians are the primeval and most beautiful race . Even though he attempts to separate all races based on their overall phenotypic differences, it seems that he instead classifies race based on how they differ from Caucasians . For this reason, it can be concluded that Blumenbach’s ideas of race were socially motivated . In The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race, Bruce Baum presents one Samuel George Morton, a polygenist physician whose ideas and research were similar to Blumenbach’s . However, Morton differs from Blumenbach in two aspects: firstly, instead of separating people into different races, which he believes are innate, irreducible differences (106), he uses the word “variety” to define the differences within the human species; secondly, he subdivides all his varieties into families, which are “groups of nations possessing, to a greater or less extent, similarity of physical and moral character, and language” (106) . Despite those two minor differences, Morton, similar to Blumenbach, demonstrates Caucasian superiority by writing, “the race was ‘distinguished for the facility with which it attains the highest intellectual endowments,’” while he refers
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This note was uploaded on 07/07/2008 for the course HIST 100 taught by Professor Bailey,christopher during the Spring '07 term at Cornell.

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final - Gahimbare 1 HIST 100 Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare...

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