Tag Archives: UNESCO

Sebastián Gil-Riaño on “Relocating Anti-Racist Science”

A forthcoming article in The British Journal for the History of Science, available now online,  on mid-twentieth century anti-racist science may be of interest to AHP readers.

Relocating anti-racist science: the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race and economic development in the global South,” by Sebastián Gil-Riaño. Abstract:

This essay revisits the drafting of the first UNESCO Statement on Race (1950) in order to reorient historical understandings of mid-twentieth-century anti-racism and science. Historians of science have primarily interpreted the UNESCO statements as an oppositional project led by anti-racist scientists from the North Atlantic and concerned with dismantling racial typologies, replacing them with population-based conceptions of human variation. Instead of focusing on what anti-racist scientists opposed, this article highlights the futures they imagined and the applied social-science projects that anti-racist science drew from and facilitated. The scientific experts who participated in drafting the first UNESCO Statement on Race played important roles in late colonial, post-colonial and international projects designed to modernize, assimilate and improve so-called backward communities – typically indigenous or Afro-descendent groups in the global South. Such connections between anti-racist science and the developmental imaginaries of the late colonial period indicate that the transition from fixed racial typologies to sociocultural and psychological conceptualizations of human diversity legitimated the flourishing of modernization discourses in the Cold War era. In this transition to an economic-development paradigm, ‘race’ did not vanish so much as fragment into a series of finely tuned and ostensibly anti-racist conceptions that offered a moral incentive for scientific elites to intervene in the ways of life of those deemed primitive.

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New Issue of JHBS

A new issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences just been released online. Included in the October issue of the journal is an article detailing how post-World War II social scientists, associated with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “consciously sought to create a scientific way of knowing that would bring unity to diversity” (p. 309) and thus reinforce democratic governance. Also featured is an article that recounts the the late-nineteenth century aesthetic research undertaken by Vernon Lee, a pseudonym adopted by British writer Violet Paget (pictured to the right). Finally, this issue of JHBS includes an account of the work of the the Social Science Research Council’s Advisory Committee on Personality and Culture (1930-1934), an interdisciplinary committee that included among its members a number of notable social scientists and clinicians, including Adolf Meyer, Edward Sapir, and Harry Stack Sullivan, among others.

Eight all-new book reviews can also be found in this issue of JHBS, including a review of Alexandra Rutherford’s Beyond the Box: B. F. Skinner’s Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s, by Ludy T. Benjamin Jr. Beyond the Box has previously been discussed on AHP here and here Continue reading New Issue of JHBS

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