In this episode we go back into the 19th century to talk about the dispute between scientists who thought that all humans came from the same origin (monogenists) and those who were convinced that each race had a separate origin (polygenists). The latter group appear to still have an influence on racial attitudes in the U.S. pushing notions of difference rather than similarity between the races. We see this today especially in ideas about race and athleticism. We focus on Samuel George Morton, Josiah Clark Nott, George Gliddon, and Louis Agassiz.
Here are some links that expand on this episode:
We attempt to set the background for the scientific consensus that grew in the 1960s and 70s that race is a cultural construction, not a biological fact. Since anthropology is the discipline most intimately entwined with race and biological anthropology is the part of the discipline that has the greatest history with race, this discusses some of the key players in driving the cultural consensus and some opposing it. There was a memorable moment at a meeting in 1966 when Paul Baker, physical anthropologist and mentor to Jim Bindon, was presenting a paper about using race as research tool and Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist, was pounding her "house post" and shouting disagreement which is used to illustrate some of the confusion about race at the time. Definitions of race by Jonathan Marks and Audrey Smedley are featured.