Politics of the Science of Race: White and Black Notions of Race in the U. S., 1829-1879
Barrington S. Edwards
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1995 E262
vii, 114 leaves; 29 cm.
For more than 1000 years, science has been accorded prestigious status, as it was believed to be value-free and objective. This study is written from within a deconstructionist frame, designed to expose how some scientific principles were shaped around the popular racial politics of the 19th century.
This study first traces the development of the notion of race and its introduction into the English lexicon in the 17th century during the time when Western powers were expanding. In this thesis, these questions are addressed: 1) How did the intersection between science and politics occur in the 19th century? 2) What extent were American racial views affected by scientific proclamations? 3) How was the credibility of science established in the 1800's?
This thesis will focus primarily on the Black-White racial dynamic of 19th century America, arguing that the notion of Black inferiority and the idea of a racial hierarchy did not evolve out of a vacuum. Rather, American political thought was sharply influenced by the subjective science of race, which served as an "objective" answer to service White hegemonic control. Thus, this study attempts to demonstrate that the political structure was fortified by deficient scientific claims. What makes this thesis an important contribution to historiography is that it amplifies and highlights dissenting arguments posed by Black intellectuals and scientists of the 19th century.