Presentation on theme: "Race Making of the Modern World Term 2, Week 7. Introduction Origin of term ‘Race’, not used in English before c.1520, from Fr ‘Razza’ = group, type of."— Presentation transcript:
Race Making of the Modern World Term 2, Week 7
Introduction Origin of term ‘Race’, not used in English before c.1520, from Fr ‘Razza’ = group, type of people 15thC & 16thC European explorations of world, (led by Port and Sp) increased contact between different peoples, driven by trade. Primarily a term influenced by Atlantic World, confluence of Europeans, Africans and Amerindians - though with later implications for Asia and Australasia. Aim: to trace devt of racial ideas, how / why becomes synonymous with skin colour
World before 1492
World in 1587
What is ‘Race’ Race not biological – no more diff between black, white, brown or red than within each group. Skin colour not an accurate indicator of ethnic origins due to genetic quirks. Possible to be one skin colour yet belong to a different ethnic group Race therefore sociological – subjective method of categorising and differentiating peoples, how categories formed/applied is very revealing of society / individual – reason why we study it as an historical concept, since reveals attitudes, still useful / important today. Largest def – Humanity Criteria for categorisation varies widely: skin colour, religion, civilization, dress, behaviour, complexion, size, gender.
Early Racial Ideas Race not fixed identity, possible to change, adapt, assimilate Earliest classification of people due to civilization status, eg Roman/Barbarian, Free/Slave, Xtn/Jew/Muslim Skin colour only one method of categorisation, colour - understood to be result of climate, (heat/exposure to sun) - idea that it is possible for blacks to become white after few generations of living in Europe, and vice versa. Colour therefore no indicator of status, possible for whites/blacks to have any status
Early modern racial attitudes Theories of monogenesis make it difficult to see Africans and Amerindians as sub-human ‘[Africans are] very black; but the features of their faces, and their excellent teeth, being white as ivory, make up together a handsom ayre, and taking comliness of a new beauty’ John Ogilby, Africa (1670) ‘[Indians are] a sort of white men in America (as I am told) that only differ from us in having no beards’ Richard Bradley, A Philosophical account of the works of nature (London, 1721) ‘[Africans are] black as coal. Here, thro’ custom, (being Christians) they account themselves white men’ Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia (London, 1723) Importance of context, eg Europeans treat Africans differently in Africa to how they treat them in the Americas.
Mid 18thC developments Crucial period, linked to enlightenment, new scientific thinking about race. Theoretical problem: men potentially equal but why so different? Polygenesis theories allow for concept of distinct creation of races Race become much more fixed on skin colour and physical appearance eg physiognomy.
18thC racial attitudes Those belonging to a racial group are seen to have inherent traits, unalterable defining characteristics, natural roles Whites – seen as xtn, civilized, natural rulers, rational thinkers, calm Blacks – brutal, suited to manual labour, unintelligent, musical, passionate (no self- control), destined to be slaves Indians – wild, savage, brutal, uncivilized, in tune with nature, heathen, destined to die out
New views of race The first difference which strikes us is that of colour… the difference is fixed in nature. …Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body…They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the state of Virginia (London, 1787) ‘There appears in savages a natural and rooted aversion to a civilised state… by the efforts of their natural genius alone, they never would have raised themselves above their original character’ David Doig, Two Letters on the Savage State (London, 1793)
From Atlas Geographus (London, 1711) diff continents embodied by dress as much as colour
Gustavus Hesselius, ‘Tishcohan’ 1735
From, A collection of voyages and travels (London, 1745)
‘Europe Supported by Africa and America’ William Blake, c.1777 note – dress no longer needed to distinguish between continents, colour alone suffices.
Charles White, An account of regular gradation in man (London, 1799)
19thC developments Begins to look beyond just skin colour to blood, that these traits are in the blood – hence one-drop rules in NA (any black ancestor makes you black, regardless of actual colour c.f. “Showboat”). Ideas of racial purity become more important; fear that miscegenation might end easy distinction between races. Science used to confirm racial differences Re-affirmation of racial categories by European powers during colonisation efforts, innate belief in superiority, and of inferiority of native peoples. Helps to explain imperialism, linked to ideas of civilization
Race and Identity By 19thC Race becomes means by which people define themselves and define ‘others’. Race not a group you belong to but what you are Race as ideology encourages racism Increasingly important to ‘belong’ to a race Social and psychological problems for those who do not fit in (cf Wide Sargasso Sea)
Role of perception Mixed-race population means it is not always easy to categorise people Race determined subjectively by all senses (not just eyes), but these were fallible – notion of ‘passing’ “We cannot say what admixture of negro blood will make a colored person. The condition of the individual is not to be determined solely by distinct and visible mixture of negro blood, but by reputation, by his reception into society, and his having commonly exercised the privileges of a white man…it may be well and proper, that a man of worth, honesty, industry, and respectability, should have the rank of a white man, while a vagabond of the same degree of blood should be confined to the inferior caste.” South Carolina Judge William Harper, 1835
19thC racial attitudes ‘The negro is particularly adapted to the wild or natural state of life. … The senses are more prefect in negroes than in Europeans. This perfection of the ruder faculties of sense is not required in the civilized state, and it therefore gives way to a more capacious form of the skull, affording space for a more ample conformation of the brain, on which an increase of intellectual power is probably dependent’ James Prichard, Researches into the Physical History of Man (London, 1813) “the negro’s want of capability to receive a complicated education renders it improper and impolitic, that he should be allowed the privileges of citizenship in an enlightened country.” Richard H. Colfax, Evidence Against the Views of the Abolitionists, Consisting of Physical and Moral Proofs, of the Natural Inferiority of the Negroes (New York: 1833), “The brain of the Negro, … is, according to the positive measurements, smaller than the Caucasian by a full tenth; and this deficiency exists particularly in the anterior portion of the brain, which is known to be the seat of the higher faculties.” Josiah C. Nott, Two Lectures on the Natural History of the Caucasian and Negro Races (Mobile, 1844), "No man will treat with indifference the principle of race. It is the key to history, and why history is often so confused is that it has been written by men who are ignorant of this principle and all the knowledge it involves... Language and religion do not make a race--there is only one thing which makes a race, and that is blood." - Benjamin Disraeli
Post-slavery End of slavery in Americas during 19thC, doesn’t alter racial attitudes, almost fixes them more firmly since legal diffs between groups now swept away. ‘Jim Crow laws’ in USA outlawed mixed race marriages, established segregation, denied voting rights to non-whites via literacy or poll tax requirements – not dismantled until Civil Rights legislation of 1960s Similar system established in South Africa 1948-1990
20thC developments Racism reaches zenith of scientific application in 1930s and 40s by Nazis, race not just skin colour but religion (Jews) and ethnic groups (Slavs) ‘the higher race subjects to itself a lower race …a right which we see in nature and which can be regarded as the sole conceivable right’ Adolf Hitler, 1933 Nuremberg party rally. ‘The Germans were the higher race, destined for a glorious evolutionary future. For this reason it was essential that the Jews should be segregated, otherwise mixed marriages would take place. Were this to happen, all nature’s efforts “to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being may thus be rendered futile” (Mein Kampf).’
Pluralism – the new Racism? Post WWII popularity of Pluralism Idea that culture is innate, can’t be learned, everyone different, not necessarily equal. Denial of individuality and freedom of choice. 'Every society, every nation is unique. It has its own past, its own story, its own memories, its own languages or ways of speaking, its own - dare I use the word - culture.' Enoch Powell ‘Love the Diversity of God's Creation; Practice Racial Integrity; Don't Race Mix; Imagine the world with only one race - only one culture - Is that really what you want?...Because that WILL be the End result. Think about it!’ Ku Klux Klan Mission Statement
Race in Britain in the 21 st C ‘Mankind is divided into races, and those races, while sharing many common features of humanity, are innately different in many ways beyond mere colour. Despite the propaganda of neo-Marxist academic and media prostitutes, and the cowardice of conservatives who dare not stand up to the totalitarian bullying of Political Correctness, this is a fact. Whether those differences are God-given or the result of evolutionary pressure is irrelevant; the important fact is that the British National Party recognises such ineradicable facts of human nature and seeks to base its political programme on such realities, and not on the pernicious fantasy of ‘human equality.’ The most important first consequence of our acceptance of innate human differences is our recognition that nationality, while it is influenced by many factors – including shared loyalties, common history, religious heritage and personal identification – is first and foremost decided by ethnicity.’ Press Statement by BNP Chairman Nick Griffin
Conclusions General movement away from race as useful method of social categorisation since 1970s, discrimination unlawful in most western countries. Yet racial attitudes exist in West, and are responsible for most wars eg between ethnic groups in Africa, between religious groups in middle east. Still most commonly used defining characteristic of an individual.