This also lead him to create the organize life forms along a continuum (the scala naturae) with more earthy at the bottom, the wetter next (such as frogs), next the fiery creatures , next humans, and last the gods.
His concepts were revised in the Enlightenment to separate humans into races.
Introducing Race 4
A recent human invention (continued)
The Romans were a far-flung culture and came into contact with a diversity of human groups.
Further, they saw themselves as culturally superior to other peoples.
The Greek ideas came to the Romans; for instance, Vitruvius (circa 46-30 B.C.E.) talked to the climate construct of races:
He thought the French, Germans, and Britons (of today) were mentally slow. Humidity and cold had produced a sluggish intelligence.
Ironically, this is the opposite of contemporary arguments for NW European superiority that are touted today.
Another Roman scholar also developed a racial classification; Julian the Apostle (4th century) classified peoples into psychological groups:
Celts and Germans were fierce.
Greeks and Romans were unyielding and warlike.
Egyptians were more intelligent.
Syrians were unwarlike, effeminate, intelligent, hot-tempered, vain and quick to learn.
The reason for the differences was that Zeus used his drops of blood to create different types of people (a precursor to the polygenists we will talk about later).
Even so, there is little evidence that the Romans thought of a single superior race, biologically.
Introducing Race 5
A recent human invention (continued)
The racism we know today has its roots in the Age of Discovery (Age of Exploration, 15-17th centuries).
During the Middle Ages, the western worldview was that the world is static (not changing).
The meant that the idea of fixity of species dominated understanding. Fixity of species is the idea that all living species do not change once they are created.
Also, the Earth was ‘full’; there was no room for any new species to be created.
Further, the Aristotle’s vision of the Great Chain of Beingstated that all species are organized in a hierarchy, with humans at the top and so on down the Chain.
Overall, this all culminated into the idea of the Argument from Design (life engineered by a purposeful God):
God had created everything in perfect form.
To challenge this perfection was to be anti-Christian.
The birth of scientific racism
How does this relate to scientific racism? Think Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)
A Swedish naturalist who developed a method of classifying plants and animals.
In his Systema naturae, first published in 1735, he established the system of binomial nomenclature. He included humans using this classification system. [Yup, same name as that by Aristotle; not a coincidence.]
He created a set of racial groups within the listing wherein he put Europeans at the apex and Africans at the base and they were static
His idea of a variety allowed for quite a bit of heterogeneity, but even so, he adhered to the concept of a racial hierarchy.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade was enabled by the Spanish conquest of the West Indies and the colonization of the New World.
Remember Columbus was trying to find an alternative spice route to the Dutch East Indies (today called Indonesia).
He landed in the Caribbean and seems to have decimated them (genocide, rape, and thievery). Harsh, but accurate.
Remember the ditty?: In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue … Some suggest that the second line should be: “And then he stole, murdered, and raped the indigenes”.
The deepening of scientific racism was during the Age of Enlightenment (Also the Age of Reason, 17-18th centuries).
Europeans of this period, as are all peoples, were embedded in the cultural fabric of their day.
This means that the technological advantages of the Europeans were used to establish dominance.
Objective science could not be used to support racial hierarchies. As a consequence, science moved to pseudoscientific explanations of their superiority.
The first laws designed to establish racial boundaries appeared during the mid-17th century.
This establishes that race is not biological, but political as it is based on our social actions.
Creating Race 10
Establishing slavery (continued)
The physical differences between African and European workers made it easier to create a demarcation between the groups that began to be treated as real.
In the period between 1690-1725 Virginia saw the creation of racial slavery.
Dozens of laws were passed that restricted the rights of African groups and the rights of their children to come.
By 1725, Africans were prohibited from voting.
At the same time, the colonial leaders were homogenizing the Europeans into a category called “white”, ignoring class, ethnicity and so forth.
By 1691 this term first appeared in a public record.
By doing so, the leaders separated the indentured not by social class, but by this new set of criteria, effectively a ‘divide and conquer’ social control mechanism.
The earliest attempts at racial slavery were NOT based on physicality, but rather on the construct that Africans were “uncivilized heathens” and “savages”.
There was precedence for this; the British had already constructed the idea of the “wild Irish”.
There are many examples of the British trying to create the concept of the “Irish race”.
Another group came to labeled as savages: American Indians (First Peoples).
But by the late 18th century this had been revised to the “noble savage” label (see earlier slide for more details).
It is important to remember that many First Peoples had been the victims of genocide and forced onto reservations during the previous century and so were not seen as a strong threat.
Creating Race 11
Rationalizing slavery (continued)
The process of racial slavery was seen as preventing the creation of new savages (Negros) and negative labels aimed at Africans helped to rationalize their subjugation.
These became the basis of the stereotypes seen in the 19th and 20th centuries.
This all created unequal groups, imposed different meanings on these groups and dehumanized Africans (othering: The process by which the basic principles of another culture (sub-culture or group) are demonized).
Even though the Civil War officially ended slavery, in the South race remained a marker of social status and identity.
The modern stereotypes of African Americans today are solidified during this time.
This concept included that of hierarchy, real and measureable physical differences, and natural (based on God’s creations).