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November 29, 2021
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Nov 29 Iris Clever (University of Chicago)

"The Afterlives of Skulls: How Race Science Became a Data Science."  

This talk will introduce anthropological practices that remain largely unexplored in the historical literature on racial science: biometrics. In the early twentieth century, biometricians analyzed skull measurements with novel statistical methods to demonstrate racial-biological differences. With skull-measuring instruments and formulas, they transformed skulls into data templates and quantified racial research. Using new archival material, the talk will also reveal how these biometric data practices challenged racist anthropology, in particular Nazi racial theories. This research thus reveals that the coexistence of antiracist and racializing practices was not paradoxical but an important feature of the anthropological study of human variation in the twentieth century.

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