lecnotes_03_04 - 21A.240 Race and Science Spring 2004 MIT...

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21A.240 Race and Science Spring 2004 MIT PART 1: THE ALCHEMY OF RACE: MAKING AND UNMAKING SCIENTIFIC RACISM Lecture 5. March 4 Summary of so far : Close weave between theories of race and ideas about proper or natural SEX/GENDER roles and behaviors. We’ve seen this all the way from early pre-scientific ideas about race through Darwin on sexual selection up to eugenics. Concerns with measuring the relative worth of races — first through ranking on the great chain of being, then through craniometry, then through an assessment of their evolutionary “fitness.” We’ve looked at changing SUBSTANCES of race. Last time, we looked at the history of eugenics in the United States and in Britain, which showed us how ideas about “race” were articulated to ideas about NATION and CLASS. And today , I want us to look at two histories PARALLEL to eugenics. These are: 1. history of race in early American anthropology and sociology (Baker, Boas) and 2. histories of immigration, citizenship law (Jacobson) You’ll have noticed from the Jacobson readings on American nativism, and the American making of the term “Caucasian” as a scientific synonym for white, anthropological visions and revisions of race take place in political context of American debates about IMMIGRATION and CITIZENSHIP and more particularly about IMMIGRATION and CITIZENSHIP LAW So, American anthropology comes into existence amidst anxieties and debates about racial categories and the political and legal debates about immigration. I want you to see these two histories as contexts for one another — looking at how racial categories created in public debate about immigration, for example, affected how anthropology took on the categories AND looking at how public discourse about immigration and citizenship drew from, ignored, or reshaped anthropological categories. In thinking about these two histories as mutually constitutive CONTEXTS, It’s useful to reflect on what W.E.B. Du Bois said about RACE: “perhaps it is wrong to speak of race at all as a concept, rather than as a group of contradictory forces, facts and tendencies” (Baker 1997: p. 112). This as a call to understand “race” not simply as an idea, but as a messy part of everyday life. So, If our past two classes have been trying to get you to think about how scientific articulations of race also have simultaneously spoken in the registers of gender,
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class, nation, and state, today, I want you to think about the relation between SCIENCE, RACE, AND LAW . Skin Color, Bodily Form: Laws of Science and Laws of the Land in the Context of Immigration, Assimilation and Early 20 th -Century American Anthropology Jacobson, Matthew Frye. 1998. Race and American Nativism, from Anglo-Saxons and Others, 1840-1924. In Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 68-90. Stocking, George, Jr. 1994. The Turn-of-the-Century Concept of Race.
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lecnotes_03_04 - 21A.240 Race and Science Spring 2004 MIT...

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