Of Skulls and Buttocks

February 23, 2010 Topics: Society Regions: Americas Tags: UndefinedRacismSociology

Of Skulls and Buttocks

Mini Teaser: Europeans came to believe everything beautiful emanated from the Caucasus. The journey of their swarthy Mediterranean forebears was transformed into a caricature of the white marble statues they left behind.

by Author(s): Anthony Pagden


Anthony Pagden is a professor of political science and history at the University of California, Los Angeles.


1 Some classicists, most recently Benjamin Isaac, have tried to show that certain theories of difference used in the ancient world were properly racial. But this has involved inventing a category of the "proto-racial" which fails to distinguish clearly between nature and nurture. The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

2 Perhaps the most persuasive account of Davenport and the American eugenics movement is the brilliant essay by Harvard professor Charles Rosenberg, "Charles Benedict Davenport and the Irony of American Eugenics" in No Other Gods: On Science and American Social Thought (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976): 89-97.

3 Virginia's law remained on the books until 1974. Over the years, some sixty-five thousand Americans from across the country deemed mentally degenerate by a crude and poorly administered intelligence test had been rounded up and sterilized against their will. The worst offender was the state of California.

Essay Types: Book Review