AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “Measuring non-Han bodies: Anthropometry, colonialism, and biopower in China’s south-western borderland in the 1930s and 1940s,” by Jing Zhu. Abstract
This article examines the biopower of non-Han bodies by considering the intersections of anthropology, racial science, and colonial regimes. During the 1930s and 1940s, when extensive anthropometric research was being undertaken on non-Han populations in the south-western borderlands of China, several anthropologists studied non-Han groups under the aegis of frontier administration. Chinese scholars sought to generate the physical characteristics of ethnic minority groups in the south-west of China, through the methodology of body measurement, in order to identify forms of social and political intervention in the management of the non-Han population in wartime. This article examines the global transmission of Western social science in China, highlighting the local reception of Western racial taxonomy. Non-Han bodies were represented as a subcategory of the Mongolian/‘Yellow’ race through anthropometric research. The body measurements of non-Han people were used to demonstrate physical similarities between the Han and various ethnic minority groups in order to evoke a unified Zhonghua minzu (Chinese ethnicity) that embraced both the Han Chinese and frontier ethnic minority groups.