CHSTM: Perspectives on “Race Science” and Scientific Racism

Perspectives on “Race Science” and
Scientific Racism
with Warwick Anderson
Gustav Mützel’s “Principal Types of Mankind (After Huxley),” 1893
Listen to perspectives on the history of race science and scientific racism around the world; the intersection of race with issues of class, gender, and scientific investigation; and the ways in which the pseudoscience on race continues on in the current era.
New Episode:
Warwick Anderson is the Janet Dora Hine Professor of Politics, Governance and Ethics in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, and leader of the Politics, Governance and Ethics Theme with the Charles Perkins Centre. As an historian of science, medicine and public health, Dr. Anderson’s work has focused on ideas about race, human difference, and citizenship in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in Australasia, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and the United States.

In this episode of our podcast series on race and science, Anderson discusses the differences between how race science was practiced in the Global South and how it was practiced in North America and Europe. He notes that theories about race—and thus the practices of race science—were often more malleable and flexible in the Southern Hemisphere, as opposed to the more rigid racial typologies and hardline eugenics that characterized the United States and Western Europe. In addition, following the work of James Baldwin and Homi Bhabha, Anderson notes how whiteness has been used as a “strategy of authority” for colonial settlers rather than as a robust identity, a fact he illustrates through his research on race in Australia and the Philippines.

Listen to the discussion on our website; closed-captioning is available on YouTube.
Previous Episodes:

  • Christa Kuljian shares her research on the field of paleoanthropology in South Africa and how ideas about racial hierarchies influenced its founding and development.
  • Elise Burton analyzes the development of genetics, race science, and race concepts in the contemporary Middle East.
  • Sebastián Gil-Riaño examines how scientific articulations of human diversity have been used to both legitimize and confront notions of race and racism in the modern world.
  • Sadiah Qureshi recounts the history of human exhibitions in nineteenth-century Britain, and tells us how these shows contributed to the formation of the discipline of anthropology.
  • Rana Hogarth talks about her work on “medicalized” blackness in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and how African-Americans pushed back against this endeavor.
  • John Jackson discusses the impact of nineteenth-century race science on twentieth-century scientific investigation, the challenge to race science made by population genetics and anthropology, and the ways in which the pseudoscience of race continues to inform twenty-first century debates.