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Racism in the Modern World

Racism in the Modern World: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaptation

Manfred Berg
Simon Wendt
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Racism in the Modern World
    Book Description:

    Emphasizing the global nature of racism, this volume brings together historians from various regional specializations to explore this phenomenon from comparative and transnational perspectives. The essays shed light on how racial ideologies and practices developed, changed, and spread in Europe, Asia, the Near East, Australia, and Africa, focusing on processes of transfer, exchange, appropriation, and adaptation. To what extent, for example, were racial beliefs of Western origin? Did similar belief systems emerge in non-Western societies independently of Western influence? And how did these societies adopt and adapt Western racial beliefs once they were exposed to them? Up to this point, the few monographs or edited collections that exist only provide students of the history of racism with tentative answers to these questions. More importantly, the authors of these studies tend to ignore transnational processes of exchange and transfer. Yet, as this volume shows, these are crucial to an understanding of the diffusion of racial belief systems around the globe.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-077-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction. Racism in the Modern World: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaptation
    (pp. 1-19)
    Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt

    Although the term only gained currency during the 1920s and 1930s, racism, both as a set of ideas and as social practice, has a much longer history. Broadly speaking, the concept has been predicated on the belief that humankind is divided into distinctive entities, commonly called races, which are delineated by descent and phenotype and regarded as primordial, static, and homogeneous. Moreover, the assertion that race determines not only physical appearance but also intellectual abilities and culture has been a key tenet of racism. Finally, its advocates have tried to establish a natural hierarchy of supposedly superior and inferior races...

  4. Chapter 1 The Racialization of the Globe: Historical Perspectives
    (pp. 20-40)
    Frank Dikötter

    “This yellow river, it so happens, bred a nation identified by its yellow skin pigment. Moreover, this nation also refers to its earliest ancestor as the Yellow Emperor. Today, on the face of the earth, of every five human beings there is one that is a descendant of the Yellow Emperor.”¹

    How do we explain the spread of racist belief systems around the globe? Before we attempt to answer this question it might be helpful to provide definitions of the terms “race” and “racism.” In English alone, the Oxford English Dictionary provides a range of literary and scientific meanings, and...

  5. Chapter 2 How Racism Arose in Europe and Why It Did Not in the Near East
    (pp. 41-64)
    Benjamin Braude

    In common usage racism has come to cover a multitude of sins. Racism/racist have frequently become little more than terms of abuse. As a result even in the supposedly precise discourse of the law, race is often confused with practically every other term of collective identity. Nonetheless as a destructive social phenomenon race has functioned in ways that differ significantly from other collectivities. Race is often presumed to have a fixed, more precise, allegedly scientific and objective, biological basis unlike terms—supposedly more cultural or political—such as ethnicity, people, nation, linguistic, or religious group. That race, just as much...

  6. Chapter 3 Culture’s Shadow: “Race” and Postnational Belonging in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 65-83)
    Christian Geulen

    In 1920, the American historian, eugenicist, and racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard published a soon-to-be-famous book,The Rising Tide of Color against White World-Supremacy. Along with Madison Grant’sThe Passing of the Great Race(1916) it was the leading work of a widespread racial pessimism in America during the 1920s. Stoddard described a global future that would be overshadowed by various crises and dangers to the supremacy of the white and Nordic races: the competition of the rising yellow races in East Asia, a likely new war in a nationally and racially divided Europe, the uprising of the black races in...

  7. Chapter 4 Racism and Genocide
    (pp. 84-104)
    Boris Barth

    Racism and genocide are global phenomena that require global analytical concepts. Racism did not appear in one single context or in a clearly definable period of time. However, controversies about the sense of more or less extended concepts of racism do not affect the generalcommunis opiniothat racism has something to do with social hierarchies, interpretation of differences, power, genetic origins, or economic exploitation. According to Albert Memmi’s famous definition, people from different regions of the globe look different, but racism starts with the interpretation of these differences.¹ Racism can be interpreted as the hierarchization of human beings according...

  8. Chapter 5 Slavery and Racism in Nineteenth-Century Cuba
    (pp. 105-121)
    Michael Zeuske

    In recent years, historians have paid much attention to slavery and race in the Americas and in world history. Their work has produced a stimulating new picture.¹ This chapter will take a closer look at race-making and racial discourse in a society other than that of the much-studied antebellum United States, namely nineteenth-century Cuba. However, before turning to this subject, we should first briefly consider the broader historical context in which Cuban slavery developed.

    In the “big picture” of Atlantic or “Western” slavery we find three main stages of slavery that have implications for the process of race-making.² The first...

  9. Chapter 6 Toward a Transnational History of Racism: Wilhelm Marr and the Interrelationships between Colonial Racism and German Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 122-139)
    Claudia Bruns

    For obvious reasons, research on racism in Germany has traditionally focused on anti-Semitism in general and the Holocaust in particular. Historians tended to explain German anti-Semitism as part of the country’s separate path, orsonderweg, toward nationhood in the nineteenth century.¹ According to Christian Geulen, anti-Semitism in Germany represented a central “medium in the process of bourgeois-national self-understanding.”² Despite a few attempts to go beyond this nation-centered perspective by comparing racist atrocities in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the German public as well as German historians tended to be skeptical of such endeavors. Above all, critics charged that historical...

  10. Chapter 7 Transatlantic Anthropological Dialogue and “the Other”: Felix von Luschan’s Research in America, 1914–1915
    (pp. 140-162)
    John David Smith

    Today historians agree that the Atlantic world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was an interconnected “transcultural space,” one that reconciled a rich exchange of cultural influences and selective appropriations between Germany and the United States.¹

    Writing recently historian Christof Mauch remarked that “At the turn of the twentieth century, the Atlantic was still a geographic obstacle to frequent cross-continental encounters and a barrier to communication. ... Only a few of the more prominent German scholars and none of the leading German politicians or members of the ruling nobility visited the United States.” While yes, direct transatlantic contacts were...

  11. Chapter 8 Transits of Race: Empire and Difference in Philippine-American Colonial History
    (pp. 163-191)
    Paul A. Kramer

    It remains unclear at exactly what point in his 1902 travels David P. Barrows decided that Filipinos were not Indians. An anthropologist and newly-appointed chief of the Philippine-American colonial government’s Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes, Barrows had in late 1901 been sent on a six-month-long tour of Indian reservations, schools and academies in the United States. The mission itself was unsurprising. Barrows was a scholar of Native American culture, having earned a PhD in 1898 from the University of Chicago for research on the ethno-botany of the Cahuilla Indians of California.¹ Following a year’s service as the superintendent of Manila’s schools,...

  12. Chapter 9 Interrogating Caste and Race in South Asia
    (pp. 192-212)
    Gita Dharampal-Frick and Katja Götzen

    “Treating caste as a form of race is politically mischievous and scientifically nonsensical.”¹ This contentious statement by André Béteille, a renowned Indian anthropologist, was formulated in anticipation of the United Nations sponsored “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” (WCAR),² held in Durban, South Africa, in August 2001. As a prelude to this international event, the issues of caste and race in India and the contested nature of their shared affinities sparked an intense debate. The controversy itself was catapulted to center stage by the demand of Dalit³ (or so-called untouchable) spokesmen for the inclusion of caste,...

  13. Chapter 10 The Making of a “Ruling Race”: Defining and Defending Whiteness in Colonial India
    (pp. 213-235)
    Harald Fischer-Tiné

    It has become almost a cliché to claim that ideologies postulating an essential difference between rulers and ruled were the cornerstones of colonial regimes.¹ The picture becomes somewhat more complex, however, if one tries to discern exactly how this difference was constructed, or the extent to which upholding it was seen as indispensable—or even possible, for that matter. Taking the example of British India, the present chapter explores how the elusive quality of “whiteness” was defined and defended in a colonial setting. It first contextualizes this quality through a broad overview of the historical trajectory of ideologies used to...

  14. Chapter 11 Glocalizing “Race” in China: Concepts and Contingencies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 236-254)
    Gotelind Müller

    This essay proposes to look at the process of introducing Western “scientific” concepts of “race” into China in terms of a negotiated process of “glocalization” (Robertson),¹ i.e., of being global and localat the same time. In comparison to other terms like indigenization, appropriation, adaptation etc., the advantage of the “glocalization” approach is to acknowledge the remaining link (and even at times contribution) to global discourse while at the same time focusing on a specific locality into which something is introduced and by which it is framed. This essay will demonstrate on the one hand in which ways linguistic, cultural...

  15. Chapter 12 Race without Supremacy: On Racism in the Political Discourse of Late Meiji Japan, 1890–1912
    (pp. 255-280)
    Urs Matthias Zachmann

    Although racism as an ideology is hard to define, most would agree that, at its core, racism—intentionally or not—includes some groups in the allocation of resources and services while excluding others, and does so by referring to a hierarchy defined by somatic differences.¹ Moreover, in the nineteenth century, this hierarchy was “scientifically” grounded on the concept of “races” as the immutable and inherent biological differences in mankind. Although the theory of evolution questioned the idea of fixed and immutable species in principle, Social Darwinism retained the idea of “race” by ranking it on an evolutionary scale.² “Racism” as...

  16. Chapter 13 Hendrik Verwoerd’s Long March to Apartheid: Nationalism and Racism in South Africa
    (pp. 281-302)
    Christoph Marx

    Before 1948 South Africa was not noticed as a special case internationally. In fact its policy of segregation fell more or less in line with that of other settler colonies in Africa—like Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South West Africa (Namibia), Kenya, and Algeria—where minority settler populations had exclusive access to government.¹ Even in the United States, where people of African origin were a minority and carried the historical stigma of slavery, the politics of segregation introduced after the Civil War shared a number of similarities with South Africa. Segregation measures concerning public amenities and signs drawing attention to separate facilities...

  17. Chapter 14 The “Right Kind of White People”: Reproducing Whiteness in the United States and Australia, 1780s–1930s
    (pp. 303-328)
    Gregory D. Smithers

    Writing in the annual report of the Department of Indian Affairs for 1900, Joseph Hall, the principal of the Coqualeetza Industrial Institute in British Columbia, praised the educational progress of indigenous children under his charge.¹ Like so many of his contemporaries in the British Empire and the United States, Hall devoted himself to the task of transforming the world’s purportedly “doomed” Aboriginal children into civilized adults.² The key to “civilizing” Aboriginal children, Hall instructed, was to have indigenous and white children interact from a young age. In Hall’s words, “the more our [Indian] children are brought into contact with the...

  18. Chapter 15 Race and Indigeneity in Contemporary Australia
    (pp. 329-352)
    A. Dirk Moses

    Race remains a term of public discourse in twenty-first-century Australia long after natural science and anthropology abandoned their belief in the existence of biologically distinct human species. Ideals of “whiteness,” culminating in the “White Australia Policy” between 1901 and the early 1970s, were designed to keep out non-whites, especially Asians, and keep down Indigenous blacks who, it was hoped, would ultimately be “absorbed” or assimilated into the broader population.¹ But whiteness has been difficult to maintain in a globalizing world. As a classical country of immigration, Australia’s population of some 21 million now comprises people from around the world. For...

  19. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 353-356)
  20. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 357-370)
  21. Index
    (pp. 371-378)