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Race and Science

Scientific Challenges to Racism in Modern America

Edited by Paul Farber and Hamilton Cravens

Publication Year: 2009

During the course of American history, scientific theories have been used to legitimate racial ideas that in turn have been important in creating and interpreting the law. Race and Science collects essays from leading voices in law, history, history of science, botany, and the social sciences, resulting in a rich and comprehensive multidisciplinary exploration of the roots of and the scientific challenges to racial essentialism.

The notion that someone’s racial identity and characteristics define everything of importance about them has become deeply embedded in American culture, society, and science. These essays illuminate the roots of this belief and present case studies that explore how and why natural and social scientists have challenged these racist views.

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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p. vi

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pp. 1-16

Race might be thought of as the third rail of American history, that line that carries the hottest and most dangerous currents in the lives of Americans—rich, poor, of moderate means, of either gender, and of any ethnicity, religion, and color. The authors of the essays in this book on race in America initially delivered them as papers at Oregon State University ...

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Slavery in the Election of 1800

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pp. 17-31

In 1800, the aristocratic slave state of Virginia stood at the Republican epicenter of the first truly partisan political campaign for president. Republican members of Congress had nominated Virginia plantation owner Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, which had proudly declared that “all men are created equal,” as their party’s candidate ...

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From Kin to Intruder: Cherokee Legal Attitudes toward People of African Descent in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 32-57

In the spring of 2007, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma grabbed national, and even international attention, with its March 3 decision to revoke the citizenship rights of 2,800 Cherokee freedmen—that is, the descendants of slaves owned by members of the Cherokee Nation during the nineteenth century—by stipulating that individuals be able to trace ancestry to the ...

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The Last Repatriationist: The Career of Earnest Sevier Cox

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pp. 58-80

“Race,” the infamous British anatomist Robert Knox declared in 1850, “is everything: literature, science, art; in a word, civilization, depends on it.”1 Civilization for Knox was biological, resting as it did on a substrate of race. Outspoken in his belief that the colonial regime of the British Empire was a biological mistake, Knox insisted, “If we now inquire into the history of the ...

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Mongrels and Hybrids: The Problem of "Race" in the Botanical World

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pp. 81-94

The problem of race hasn’t figured prominently in the entire biological world. In the plant world, for example, it rarely figures at all. What does figure, especially since Darwin first noticed it, is the deeper problem of variation. What it is, its origin, its maintenance and preservation (or its heritability), its pattern (continuous or discontinuous), and ultimately what biological ...

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The Roman Campaign of ’53 to ’55: The Dunn Family among a Jewish Community

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pp. 95-129

In August 1953 L. C. Dunn set off for Italy with his wife, Louise, and their son Stephen and in search of a small isolated community that would become the subject of genetic and anthropological research.3 The family’s central question was, “Does the custom of marriage within one’s own faith have biological consequences?”4 By October the Dunns had chosen a Jewish ...

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Changes in Scientific Opinion on Race Mixing: The Impact of the Modern Synthesis

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pp. 130-151

In the early 1950s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued two statements on race. They were crafted in response to a resolution passed by the organization at its fourth General Conference in 1949 as part of the organization’s campaign against racism. The director-general had given the Social Science Department a charge to ...

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Race, IQ, and Politics in Twentieth-Century America

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pp. 152-184

In 1916 the New York attorney, racist, and conservationist Madison Grant published a book that was to be influential in the United States for the next two decades, The Passing of the Great Race.1 The book went through many printings, eventually selling some 16,000 copies in this country alone. In that book, Grant famously argued that it was the Nordic race that was responsible ...

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Robert Coles and the Political Culture of the Second Reconstruction

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pp. 185-212

Nearly fifty years ago, in 1960, Robert Coles, a Harvard-trained physician and psychiatrist, newly married to fellow New Englander Jane Hallowell, returned to the South. Only a few years earlier, as a captain in the United States Air Force, he had been stationed, not by choice, at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he had administered a neuropsychiatric ...

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Genomics, Genetic Identity, and the Refiguration of "Race"

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pp. 213-227

Rapidly evolving genomic technologies are enabling the creation of new forms of biosocial identity and the realignment of old ones.1 Evidence for this proposition appears regularly via the media. One example is a BBC story concerning “divided Lebanon’s common genes.” Dr. Pierre Zalloua, author of the study upon which this story was based, finds that many Lebanese ...

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p. 228

This volume grew out of a conference held at Oregon State University on April 29, 2006. The title of the day-long meeting was “Race, Science & Law” and was part of the set of events sponsored by the History Department with funding from the Horning Endowment. The Horning Endowment was established by the will of the late Benjamin Horning in honor of his parents, ...

Contributors' Notes

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pp. 229-230


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pp. 231-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780870716379
E-ISBN-10: 0870716379
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870715761
Print-ISBN-10: 0870715763

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: Map
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 768265982
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Race and Science

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Subject Headings

  • Science and law -- North America.
  • Science and law -- United States.
  • Racism -- United States.
  • Science -- Social aspects -- North America.
  • Science -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Racism -- North America.
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