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Race Is a Four-Letter Word: The Genesis of the Concept

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A tour de force work by a leading scholar, "Race" Is a Four-Letter Word explores the history of the concept of race in America, the reasons why the concept has no biological validity, and the ways in which it grew to become accepted as an idea that virtually everyone regards as self-evident. An ardent and eloquent opponent of typology, essentialism, and stereotyping, C. Loring Brace has based this engaging study on the "Problems of Race" course that he has taught at the ...
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Overview


A tour de force work by a leading scholar, "Race" Is a Four-Letter Word explores the history of the concept of race in America, the reasons why the concept has no biological validity, and the ways in which it grew to become accepted as an idea that virtually everyone regards as self-evident. An ardent and eloquent opponent of typology, essentialism, and stereotyping, C. Loring Brace has based this engaging study on the "Problems of Race" course that he has taught at the University of Michigan for the past thirty-five years.
Opening with an explanation of why the concept of race is biologically indefensible, "Race" Is a Four-Letter Word shows how the major elements of human biological variation have unrelated distributions and cannot be understood if the existence of "races" is assumed as a starting point. The book then examines the course of events that created the concept of race, journeying through time from Herodotus through Marco Polo; to the Renaissance and the role of the New World; on up to the American Civil War, the curious results of the alliance switch in World War I, Arthur Jensen, The Bell Curve, J. Philippe Rushton, and the Pioneer Fund in the twenty-first century.
Ideal as a supplementary text in anthropology courses, "Race" Is a Four-Letter Word can also be used in history of science courses and sociology courses. It is captivating reading for professionals and anyone else who seeks enlightenment on the socially debatable issue of "race."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I found this book coherent, plausible, scholarly, engaging, and entertaining to read. If I were recommending this text to my colleagues, I would point to its thorough historical scope and scholarship, its ingratiating style, its distinctly individual voice, and its unique and valuable insights. This is a good, interesting, well-written book by someone who knows a great deal about both human biology and intellectual history."--Matt Cartmill, Professor of Anthropology, Duke University

"The Brace manuscript is a tour de force. It represents a major contribution to our understanding of the history of race and racism."--George Armelagos, Professor of Anthropology, Emory University

"This is a splendid manuscript on a much needed topic. The topic is timely and I have the greatest respect for the erudition and fine writing style that Dr. Brace provides in this original work. Dr. Brace is a highly respected biological anthropologist and this book will attract a wide reading audience of professionals and other readers who seek enlightenment on the sociallydebatable issue of race."--Kenneth A. R. Kennedy, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, and Asian Studies, Cornell University

"I would recommend this text without reservation to anyone who wants a detailed history of the idea of race in science. If one wants to know what individual scientists were doing and thinking, and one does not have time to read them, then this is THE BOOK."--Alan Goodman, Professor of Biological Anthropology, Hampshire College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195173529
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

C. Loring Brace is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, as well as curator of Biological Anthropology at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology. Brace has written extensively on human evolution, especially on issues of morphological variability between human populations. In addition to numerous journal articles, he has written books that span from Mans Evolution: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology (with Ashley Montagu, Macmillan, 1965) to his most recent Evolution in an Anthropological View (AltaMira Press, 2000).

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Table of Contents

1 The biology of human variation 4
2 The perception of human differences in the past 17
3 One origin or many? 37
4 Anthropology in the enlightenment 44
5 The triumph of feeling over reason 57
6 Phrenology 66
7 The founding of the American School of Anthropology 76
8 Passing the torch 93
9 The demise of monogenism and the rise of polygenism 106
10 Toward a war over slavery and afterward 125
11 The French connection 144
12 The legacy of the American school in America 159
13 The ethos of eugenics 178
14 Henry Ford and the ethos of The Holocaust 197
15 The outlook of the "bigot brigade" 204
16 The Galtonian legacy in America 211
17 "Race" in biological anthropology 222
18 The legacy of the pioneer fund 240
19 "Otherism" 268
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