Joseph S. Weiner and the foundation of post-WW II human biology in the United Kingdom



Both the United States and the United Kingdom experienced a transformation in the science of physical anthropology from the period before World War II until the post-war period. In the United States, Sherwood L. Washburn is credited with being a leading figure in this transformation. In the United Kingdom, two individuals were instrumental in bringing about a similar change in the profession. These were Joseph S. Weiner at the University of Oxford and Nigel Barnicot at the University of London, with Weiner playing the principal role as leader in what Washburn called the “New Physical Anthropology,” that is, the application of evolutionary theory, the de-emphasis on race classification, and the application of the scientific method and experimental approaches to problem solving. Weiner's contributions to physical anthropology were broad-based—climatic and work physiology, paleoanthropology, and human variation—in what became known as human biology in the U.K. and human adaptability internationally. This biographical essay provides evidence for the significant influence of J.S. Weiner on the post-war development of human biology (biological or physical anthropology) inthe U.K. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.