During a dark period of world history, intellectuals pondered where to draw the line between human and animal. They arrayed humans hierarchically, from the lightest to the darkest skin. Believing that Africans were ape-like, they weren’t sure whether to include apes as human, or Africans as apes.
One artifact of this thinking was the “human zoo.” Kidnapped from their homes at the end of the 19th century and into the next, hundreds of indigenous people were put on display for white Westerners to view. ”Often they were displayed in villages built in zoos specifically for the show,” according to a Spiegel Online sent in by Katrin, “but they were also made to perform on stage for the amusement of a paying public.” Many died quickly, being exposed to diseases foreign to them.
A German named Carl Hagenbeck was among the more famous men involved in human zoos. He would go on expeditions in foreign countries and bring back both animals and people for European collections. In his memoirs, he spoke of his involvement with pride, writing: “it was my privilege to be the first in the civilized world to present these shows of different races.”
The zoo in Hamburg still bears his name.
The text traces the presentation and degradation of many nonwestern cultures as they were presented to the western world. Beginning with a chapter about the rise of the Freak Show, the text winds through the melancholy story of the dehumanization of Asian, African, Native American, Indian and other cultures as the west explored, conquered and claimed vast portions of the globe. Among the other choice information to be found and viewed is rarely voiced perspectives of P. T. Barnum and other showmen of the time, demonstrating how such spectacles as the sideshow began a debasement of mankind culminating in the placement of "savages" in actual zoos alongside the animals.
Ota Benga (circa 1883 – March 20, 1916) was a Congolese Mbuti pygmy known for being featured with other Africans in an anthropology exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904, and later in a controversial human zoo exhibit in the Bronx Zoo in 1906. Benga had been freed from slave traders in the Congo by the missionary Samuel Phillips Verner, who had taken him to Missouri. At the Bronx Zoo, Benga had free run of the grounds before and after he was "exhibited" in the zoo's Monkey House. Displays of non-Western humans as examples of "earlier stages" of human evolution were common in the early 20th century, when racial theories were frequently intertwined with concepts from evolutionary biology.
In 1904, Ota Benga was brought to the United States by the missionary and
explorer Samuel Phillips Verner. Verner had been hired by the St. Louis World’s
Fair to bring back pygmies for one of their ethnographic exhibits.
Verner’s story is recounted by his grandson Phillips Verner Bradford in the
book ‘Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo’. According to this account, Verner
purchased Ota Benga from African slave traders - his wife and children had
been killed in a massacre. Verner brought Benga, seven other pygmies and a
young Congolese man to St Louis where they proved to be one of the most
popular attractions at the fair. The crowds gawked, jeered and at one point
threw mud pies at the human exhibit.
From St Louis, the group travelled to New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras,
and finally back to Africa. Benga - expressing a desire to learn to read - asked
Verner to take him with him when the explorer returned home.
Verner and Ota Benga arrived in New York in August 1906. Verner, looking for
a place for Benga to live, finally brought him to the Bronx Zoo, where, at first,
he walked the grounds and helped the workers. But in early September, it was
decided to move Benga’s hammock into an orang utan’s cage, where he was
encouraged to play with the orang utan and weave caps out of straw and to
shoot his bow and arrow. The zoo was encouraged by prominent eugenicist
and head of the New York Zoological Society Madison Grant and a sign soon
The African Pigmy, ‘Ota Benga.’
Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight, 103 pounds.
Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State,
South Central Africa, by Dr. Samuel P. Verner.
Exhibited each afternoon during September.
Madison Grant (November 19, 1865 – May 30, 1937) was an American lawyer known primarily for his work as a eugenicist and conservationist. As a eugenicist, Grant was responsible for one of the most famous works of scientific racism, and played an active role in crafting strong immigration restriction and anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.
As a conservationist, Grant was credited with the saving of many different species of animals, founding many different environmental and philanthropic organizations and developing much of the discipline of wildlife management.
Similar ideas were proposed by Gustav Kossinna in Germany. Grant promoted the idea of the "Nordic race"—a loosely defined biological-cultural grouping rooted in Scandinavia—as the key social group responsible for human development; thus the subtitle of the book was The racial basis of European history. As an avid eugenicist, Grant further advocated the separation, quarantine, and eventual collapse of "undesirable" traits and "worthless race types" from the human gene pool and the promotion, spread, and eventual restoration of desirable traits and "worthwhile race types" conducive to Nordic society:
"A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words social failures—would solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him, or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types."
The effect was felt at both the state and federal level. Twenty-four states passed laws encouraging sterilization of those who were retarded, insane, or had criminal records. At the Federal level, in 1921, Albert Johnson, head of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, began a series of hearings on immigration. He appointed Harry Laughlin, who in 1922 would be one of Grant’s co-founders of the American Eugenics Society, as an expert witness on eugenics. In 1922, Laughlin reported extensively on racial differences in IQ as measured by the new army intelligence test.
In 1923, Grant’s close friend Henry Fairfield Osborn, the famous paleontologist who named “tyrannosaurus rex,” spoke enthusiastically about intelligence testing: “We have learned once and for all that the Negro is not like us.”
Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a color metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with Chinese immigrants as coolie slaves or laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States, and later associated with the Japanese during the mid-20th century, due to Japanese military expansion and eventually all asians of East and Southeast Asian descent.
The term refers to the skin color of East Asians, and the fear that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages and standards of living and that they would eventually take over and destroy western civilization, their ways of life and values.
The term has also referred to the belief and fear that East Asian societies would invade and attack Western societies, wage wars with and lead to their eventual destruction and eradication.
Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman (before 1790 – 29 December 1815) (also spelled Bartman, Bartmann, Baartmen) was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—"Hottentot" as the then-current name for the Khoi people, now considered an offensive term, and "Venus" in reference to the Roman goddess of love.
Genetics has always been driven by technology. As Time Magazine says, (technologically) the future is now. But the past is also still with us.
There are, to be sure, two schools of thought on the value of history. Applied to human issues, genetics becomes a humanistic and social science; and it has a poor track record. The first generation of modern human geneticists failed to appreciate the fundamental civil liberties and human rights which we take for granted now. If the post-modern world is a better place now, it is unfortunately in spite of, not because of, the genetics and geneticists of that era. And as technology improves, the opportunity for harm -- intended or not -- improves with it. That is the basic tradeoff of technology in society.
Let us make their mistakes our lessons. The responsibilities incurred by the nineteen-twentieths of the Human Genome Project’s budget which is not devoted to ethical, legal, and social implications, constitute the greatest intellectual challenge for the field. They need to be part of every present geneticist’s consciousness, and every future geneticist’s education.
The 1958 case of Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia initiated a challenge that would eventually overturn the law. That year, Mildred Jeter (a black woman) and Richard Loving (a white man) were married in the District of Columbia. After moving to Virginia, they were indicted for violating the Racial Integrity Act. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in jail. The trial judge suspended their sentences on the condition that they accept banishment from the state and not return together for 25 years. The judge's written opinion declared: Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with this arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Only one hundred years ago, many of the world's leading scientists agreed with A. C. Haddon, when he wrote in his 1898 book Study of Man, that, "on the whole, the white race has progressed beyond the black race."
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists were so fascinated by race that thousands of 'exotic' and indigenous people from all over the world were put on display in human zoos. They were not intended as merely entertaining freak shows but also scientific demonstrations of racial difference. Across the western world millions gawped in fascination at these 'uncivilized savages' and would depart convinced of the superiority of the white race.
This documentary explores the phenomenon of human zoos and tells the poignant story of Ota Benga, a Batwa pygmy from the Belgian Congo, who was first put on display at the 1904 St Louis World's Fair and then the Bronx Zoo where he was labeled as the 'missing link'.
As the film reveals, it was only a short step from these human zoos to the horrors of Nazi Germany as pseudo science that underpinned one, helped legitimize the other.
Browse 950 new photos, papers, and data – including extensive collections from noted eugenicists. Discover Francis Galton's work on fingerprint analysis and composite portraiture, and read Charles Davenport's treatise, Eugenics: The Science of Human Improvement by Better Breeding, presented in its entirety. Explore Arthur Estabrook's field photos of subjects of his (in)famous studies: The Jukes in 1915, Mongrel Virginians, and The Nam Family. Click the "Search the Archive" button to access the image database.
Scientific racism is a shameful part of American science. In retros
pect, scientists wonder at
the absence of critical challenges to these racist results from early American scientists. It did not
occur to the scientists to question the results because the concepts were “so congruent with social and
political life” (Stepa
n, 171). This suggestion has implications for scientists of today and tomorrow.
Blacks suffered under slavery and unequal education conditions, but these were not the only
instances of justifying and protecting the exploitation of people. Biased studie
s have also oppressed
women and immigrants in this country; the eugenics craze affected minorities and Jews throughout
the world. What about today? Are there still social biases that scientists are unwillingly
incorporating into their studies? Where is
there exploitation today that unscrupulous scientific results
are seeking to protect? Undoubtedly, the practice of scientific racism exists, but for today’s society
to be different from our forefathers, we must demand scrutiny of both our own values and
objective” scientific study. Otherwise, tomorrow we could be reading about the social horrors we
justified in our own daily lives.
Psychology has a fascinating and rich history, filled with amazing advances. But it wasn’t all progress. Psychology has a painful past — with many victims.
One of the most devastating times in psychology was a movement called eugenics, a name coined by Sir Francis Galton in 1883. The goal of eugenics was to improve the genetic composition of the population: to encourage healthy, smart individuals to reproduce (called positive eugenics) and to discourage the poor, who were considered unintelligent and unfit, from reproducing (negative eugenics).
One of the main methods to discourage reproduction was through sterilization. While it seems ludicrous now, many people, both abroad and in the U.S., agreed with the principles of eugenics.
In fact, state governments soon started establishing sterilization laws. In 1907, Indiana was the first state to legalize sterilization.
According to scientist Stephen Jay Gould in Natural History:
“Sterilization could be imposed upon those judged insane, idiotic, imbecilic, or moronic, and upon convicted rapists or criminals when recommended by a board of experts.”
Originally posted by halfoldman
While the Human Zoo information was very interesting and tragic, when I saw the documentary I was a bit disappointed that it only focused on colonial Africa.
That should definitely be a part of it.
But there were many colonized peoples at the St. Louis World Fair.
I'm also not sure whether this is really an anthropological story, or simply a story about entertainment and a search for the exotic.
Of course the two became intertwined.
Perhaps it is because here we have the history of "white racism" as exclusive racism so hammered every day politically that we know the African stories, and I was surprised to read about eugenics, for example in Canada, both for certain European groups and native groups like the Abnaki.edit on 11-6-2013 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)
Based on the book by New York Times best selling author and nine time
Pulitzer Prize nominee, Edwin Black,
War Against the Weak
is the untold
story of American Eugenics, a movement that attempted to breed a
Nordic master race through the elimination of those deemed “unfit”.
In the first three decades of the 20th Century, American corporate
philanthropy, combined with the efforts of the scientific, academic and
political elite, created the pseudoscience eugenics, and institutionalized
race politics as national policy. The goal was to create a superior, white,
Nordic race and obliterate virtually everyone else.
Eugenicists went about identifying so-called 'defective' family trees and
subjected individuals to legislated segregation and sterilization programs,
and sometimes even euthanasia. The victims were poor people, brown-
haired white people, African Americans, immigrants, Native Americans,
Eastern European Jews, the infirm and anyone classified outside the
superior genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists. The main
funders were The Carnegie Institution, The Rockefeller Foundation, and
The Harriman Railroad fortune. The main actors included America's most
respected scientists, hailing from such prestigious universities as Harvard,
Yale, and Princeton, and operating out of a complex at Cold Spring
Harbor, Long Island. The eugenic network worked in tandem with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the State Department, numerous state
governmental bodies and legislatures throughout the country, and the
U.S. Supreme Court. They were all dedicated to breeding a eugenically
superior race, just as agronomists would breed better strains of corn, and
to eliminating the reproductive capability of the weak and inferior.
Originally posted by NoRegretsEver
reply to post by Byrd
I wonder, are there any names that you might have heard or read about, that you didnt know were involved, or were teaching the findings of this, but not the technique?