Special Issue on Transnational Movements and Transwar Connections in Human Populations Studies

AHP readers may be interested in a new Special Issue of Perspectives on Science dedicated to “Transnational Movements and Transwar Connections in Human Populations Studies.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“People in Motion: Introduction to Transnational Movements and Transwar Connections in the Anthropological and Genetic Study of Human Populations,” Iris Clever, Jaehwan Hyun, Elise K. Burton. Open access. No abstract provided.

“Miriam Tildesley and the Anthropological Politics of Standardizing Racial Measurements,” Iris Clever. Abstract:

This article examines to what extent nationalist and sexist sentiment and international politics shaped attempts to universalize measurement practices in physical anthropology. On the one hand, racial scientists were interested in creating an international community with a universalized methodology and developing a global taxonomy of human races. On the other hand, they chauvinistically guarded their localized practices from outside influences. By following the standardization efforts of British biometrician Miriam Tildesley, a female racial scientist adamant on unifying a research field largely dominated by men from different countries, this article argues that intersecting forces of nationalism, internationalism, and sexism shaped anthropological practices in the early twentieth century.

“Blood Affairs: Racial Blood Group Research and Nation Building in Greece, 1920s–1940s,” Ageliki Lefkaditou. Abstract:

This paper examines the transnational exchanges associated with the emergence of racial blood group studies in Greece. It explores the overlap between anthropological and medical perspectives as well as the concurrences and tensions between national and transnational concerns. By following the work of the main Greek physical anthropologist of the interwar period, the paper asks how politics interpenetrates into this case study in a scientifically consequential way and conversely how innovation in research allows anthropologists to intervene with politically timely questions. It showcases how wartime mobilities generated anthropological data that weaved and strengthened the fabric of the Greek national narrative.

“The Norwegian Association for Heredity Research and the Organized International Eugenics Movement. Expertise, Authority, Transnational Networks and International Organization in Norwegian Genetics and Eugenics (1919–1934),” Jon Røyne Kyllingstad. Abstract:

The Norwegian Association for Heredity Research played a key role in the rise of genetics as a research field in Norway. The immediate background of its establishment in 1919 was the need for an organization that could clarify scientific issues regarding eugenics and coordinate Norwegian representation in the organized international eugenics movement. The Association never assumed this role. Instead, Norway was represented in the international eugenics movement by the so-called Norwegian Consultative Eugenics Commission, whose leader, Jon Alfred Mjøen, was dismissed as a pseudo-scientist by Norwegian geneticists. The paper explores the Association’s role in defining and delimiting scientific expert knowledge in the field of genetics and eugenics in Norway. It demonstrates how struggles about academic authority on the national arena were intertwined with struggles about representation and impact in the international eugenics movement and how transnational scientific networks where mobilized to legitimize and delegitimize notions about Nordic race supremacy, racial mixing and the politics of eugenic sterilizations.

“Transnational Isolates: Portuguese Colonial Race Science and the Foreign World,” Ricardo Roque. Abstract:

This article examines scientific transnationalism as an art of engagement with, and avoidance of, the threats and promises of what was foreign to the nation. Portuguese racial anthropologists experienced a tension between remaining imperial-nationalistic in character, and internationalist in their activities simultaneously. They struggled to exclude foreigners from colonial field sites; they aimed at nativist authority based on total control of colonial data. Yet, they eagerly sought connections with foreign experts to capitalize provincial scientific authority within Portugal’s colonies. The essay conceptualizes this mode of transnationalism as also a kind of isolationism, an inward oriented form of engaging with foreign sciences and scientists as ambivalently powerful and threatening strangers.

“Racializing a New Nation: German Coloniality and Anthropology in Maharashtra, India,” Thiago P. Barbosa. Abstract:

This paper deals with the transnationalism of racial anthropological frameworks and its role in the understanding of human difference during India’s decolonization and nation-building. With attention to the circulation of scientific objects, I focus on the practices and articulations of Irawati Karve (1905–1970), an Indian anthropologist with a transnational scientific trajectory and nationalistic political engagements. I argue that Karve’s adaptation of an internationally validated German racial approach to study caste, ethnic and religious groups contributed to the further racialization of these categories as well as to the racialization of nationalistic projects in Maharashtra and India. I conclude with a reflection on the transnationalization of the coloniality of socialization.

“In the Name of Human Adaptation: Japanese American “Hybrid Children” and Racial Anthropology in Postwar Japan,” Jaehwan Hyun. Open access. Abstract:

By focusing on the emergence and integration of “hybrid children” (konketsuji) anthropology into the Human Adaptability section of the International Biological Program (HA-IBP) in Japan during the 1950s and 1970s, this paper presents how transnational dynamics and mechanisms played out in shaping and maintaining the racist aspects while simultaneously allowed them to be included in the HA-IBP framework. It argues that Japanese anthropologists operated a double play between their national and transnational spaces, that is, they attenuated racist aspects of their research in their international activities while authenticating race in their national work. This paper will conclude with reflections on the transnational nationalism of konketsuji anthropology.

“Commentary: Nationalism and Transnationalism in Anthropological Research,” Soraya de Chadarevian. Open access. No abstract provided.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.