Scientific Racism

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Matthew Kuh

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Scientific Racism

Racism, the prejudice or discrimination against someone of a different race, has been around for millenniums and can still be seen today. It is based on an ethnocentric mind-set, where one devalues the aspects of someone's race or culture by means of comparing it to their own. Much of racism is derived from differences in physical appearance, behavior, religion, media, beliefs shared in communities and families, etc. Scientific racism is another factor that is often overlooked. The term can be described as the use of pseudoscientific (sub par scientific methods) techniques and hypotheses to support their belief in racism. Scientific racism is a significant and controversial aspect of cultural anthropology, and can be further appraised through the analysis of its history, uses of anthropologists, critiques, and how it contributes to cultural anthropology. Scientific racism has been around for the past few centuries, starting prominently in the later 1800s during the New Imperialism period. It was used to justify the White European colonization, where scientists of the time provided results from pseudoscientific studies that supported White superiority. These results were published in university textbooks, and were taught to school children, creating a whole community with the same racist beliefs. Craniometry or the measurement of the interior skull volume was one of the first studies that produced scientific racists results. Pieter Camper, a dutch scholar, started some of the first works in craniometry, using results to scientifically justify racial differences. In 1770, Camper introduced the “facial angle” to measure the intelligence among different races of men. Drawing two lines, one from the nostrils to ear, and one from the jawbone to forehead, the angle created from these lines will relate to an individual’s intelligence. Men with angle...
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