A new piece in Isis may interest AHP readers: “Biometry against Fascism: Geoffrey Morant, Race, and Anti-Racism in Twentieth-Century Physical Anthropology,” by Iris Clever. Abstract:
This essay introduces an anthropological practice that remains largely unexplored in the historical literature on racial science: biometrics. In the early twentieth century, biometricians analyzed skull measurements using novel statistical methods to demonstrate racial biological differences. Drawing on new archival material, the essay reveals how these biometric data practices challenged racist anthropology. Between 1934 and 1952, Geoffrey Morant, an expert on biometry and race in Karl Pearson’s Biometric Laboratory in London, mobilized biometry to debunk Nazi racial theories. He informed the public about Nazism’s fallacies in The Races of Central Europe (1939) and his UNESCO pamphlet The Significance of Racial Differences (1952). Unlike anti-racism campaigners such as Ashley Montagu, however, Morant did not dismiss the biological reality of race in his fight against Nazi racism. The essay shows that the coexistence of anti-racist and racializing practices was not paradoxical but, rather, an important feature of the anthropological study of human variation in the twentieth century.