Although eugenics is now widely discredited, some groups and individuals claim a new scientific basis for old racist assumptions. Pondering the continuing influence of racist research and thought, despite all evidence to the contrary, Robert Sussman explains why—when it comes to race—too many people still mistake bigotry for science.
Sussman, an anthropology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, explores and explodes the concept of race. He contends that, in the face of a longstanding scientific consensus that race possesses no biological basis, many people still mistakenly believe that traits like aggression, intelligence, and generosity can be traced to it. Noting that racial distinctions between humans have no biological basis is not new, Sussman makes his contribution by exposing the ways that academic "science" is invoked to authorize an outmoded concept. He traces the history of ideas about race, moving briskly from the Spanish Inquisition to Linnaeus and Kant, and offering a detailed discussion of eugenics. Lest readers imagine this is all in the distant past, Sussman devotes his last three chapters to the funding mechanisms that keep racist research alive today. He shows that "science" has been used in efforts to overturn civil rights legislation, and he examines the ways racist discourse has become intertwined with immigration policy. This book, which is both provocative and commonsensical, will be useful to scholars, but may also spark a broader conversation.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I will start with the only criticism I can muster for this book. I felt it repeated information mentioned earlier in the book a little too much. I've read the information I don't need to be reminded of it constantly. And it jumps across the timeline a little too much in my opinion. This made it a little difficult to know what was going on at that time and the relevance of what the author is talking about.
That being said I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to learn. I know for me personally I was flabbergasted that I was ignorant to this topic and saw some of the racism in this book in my life (I have since made changes). This book has helped me to see what racism is and how it has and does affects not only America but the world. A wonderful book and a must read.