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292 pages, notes, illustrations, Key Issues

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The Origins of an Idea, 1760–1850

Augstein, Hannah, editor

The nineteenth century saw the rejection of earlier classifications of racial diversity – as grounded in environment, education, and divine origins – for that of scientific racialism. Used to account for political problems within Europe, it justified imperialism and the imposition of rule over so-called primitive peoples. And yet such racial theory, which is nowadays seen as a characteristic development of the nineteenth century, had its foundations in the age of Enlightenment. This volume reproduces documents written between 1760 and 1850, surveying developments in Germany, France, and England, which reveal the rise of racial theory in all its complex diversity from Buffon and Blumenbach onwards.