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Keywords:

  • History;
  • Anthropology;
  • Scientific racism;
  • Eugenics;
  • Creationism

Abstract

In this work, I review recent works in science studies and the history of science of relevance to biological anthropology. I will look at two rhetorical practices in human evolution—overstating our relationship with the apes and privileging ancestry over emergence—and their effects upon how human evolution and human diversity have been understood scientifically. I examine specifically the intellectual conflicts between Rudolf Virchow and Ernst Haeckel in the 19th century and G. G. Simpson and Morris Goodman a century later. This will expose some previously concealed elements of the tangled histories of anthropology, genetics, and evolution—particularly in relation to the general roles of race and heredity in conceptualizing human origins. I argue that scientific racism and unscientific creationism are both threats to the scholarly enterprise, but that scientific racism is worse. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.