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Week 3: First Encounters and the Origins of Anthropology

As exploratory voyages led to conquest and colonization, Europeans were brought into sustained contact with non-Europeans. These encounters with different population groups were interpreted within the Enlightenment impulse for classification, leading to efforts to describe and categorise human variation. In this session, we’ll look at how these encounters shaped perceptions of colonized peoples in the eighteenth century, leading to a variety of conflicting narratives about the nature and meaning of ‘race’.


Discussion Questions:

-Why did a biological concept of race emerge in the Enlightenment?

-What role did the slave trade play in shaping racial ideology?

-Was eighteenth-century racial theory more concerned with classifying differences, or with establishing racial hierarchies?

-What stereotypes about non-European peoples emerged in the eighteenth century?


Required Readings:

*I.C. Campbell, ‘Savages Noble and Ignoble: the Preconceptions of Early European Voyages in Polynesia,’ Pacific Studies, 4 (1980), pp. 45-59

*Joyce E. Chaplin, ‘Natural Philosophy and an Early Racial Idiom in North America: Comparing English and Indian Bodies,’ The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series 54 (1997), 229-252. [e-journal]

*Nicholas Hudson, ‘From “Nation” to “Race”: The Origin of Racial Classification in Eighteenth-Century Thought’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 29 (1996). 247-64. [e-journal]

**Jennifer L. Morgan, ‘Some Could Suckle over Their Shoulder’: Male Travelers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology, 1500-1770’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series 54 (1997), pp. 167-192 [e-journal]

*Londa Schiebinger, ‘The anatomy of difference: race and sex in eighteenth-century science’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 23 (1990), 387-405. [e-journal]

Further Readings:

Michael Banton, Racial Theories, 2nd Ed. (Cambridge, 1998), ‘Ch. 2: Race as Lineage,’ pp.17-43 [e-book]

David Bindman, Ape to Apollo: Aesthetics and the Idea of Race in the Eighteenth Century (London, 2002)

William B. Cohen, The French Encounter With Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880 (Bloomington, 2003)

Surekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human (Cambridge, 2016) [e-book]

James Delbourgo, ‘The Newtonian Slave Body: Racial Enlightenment in the Atlantic World’, Atlantic Studies 9 (2012), 185-207 [e-journal]

Olivia Patricia Dickason, Myth of the Savages and the Beginnings of French Colonialism in the Americas (Edmonton, 1984)

Ter Ellingson, The Myth of the Noble Savage (Berkeley, 2001)

John Gascoigne, ‘The Royal Society, Natural History and the Peoples of the “New World(s)”, 1660–1800’, British Journal for the History of Science 42 (2009), 539-562 [e-journal]

Snait B. Gissis, 'Visualizing "Race" in the Eighteenth Century,' Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 41 (2011), 41-103. [e-journal]

Ivan Hannaford, Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Washington, 1996), ‘Ch. 7: The First Stage in the Development of an Idea of Race, 1684-1815,’ pp. 187-234 .[extracts]

Miranda J. Hughes, ‘Philosophical Travelers at the Ends of the Earth: Baudin, Peron, and the Tasmanians’, in Home, R.W. (ed.), Australian Science in the Making (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 23-44.

Gustav Jahoda, Images of savages: ancient roots of modern prejudice in Western culture (London, 1999)

Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Atittudes Towards the Negro, 1550-1812 (Baltimore, 1968), 'Ch. I: First Impressions: Initial English Confrontation with Africans,' pp.3-43.

Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797 (London, 1986)

Robin Inglis, ‘The Noble Savage: Myth and Reality and the Northwest Coast at the End of the Eighteenth Century,’ Alexandro Malaspina Research Center, Document Vault: Papers and Archives (available here)

Miriam Claude Meijer, Race and Aesthetics in the Anthropology of Petrus Camper, 1722-89 (Amsterdam, 1998)

Rubis, Joan-Pau, Travellers and Cosmographers: Studies in the History of Early Modern Travel and Ethnology (London, 2007)

Roxanne Wheeler, The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-century British Culture (Philadelphia 2000)

Primary Sources:

Hannah Augstein (ed.), Race: The Origins of an Idea, 1750-1850 (Bristol, 1996)

Jonathan Burton and Ania Loomba (eds.), Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion (Basingstoke, 2007) [e-book]

Emmanuel Chaukwudi Eze (ed.), Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader (Malden, 1997)