The Races of Europe

Construction of National Identities in the Social Sciences, 1839-1939

  • Richard McMahon

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Richard McMahon
    Pages 1-16
  3. Networks, Methods and Narratives

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 17-18
    2. Richard McMahon
      Pages 19-92
    3. Richard McMahon
      Pages 93-167
  4. Peripheral Case Studies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 243-245
    2. Richard McMahon
      Pages 287-324
    3. Richard McMahon
      Pages 363-376
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 377-466

About this book


This book explores a vital but neglected chapter in the histories of nationalism, racism and science. It is the first comprehensive study of the transnational scientific community that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries attempted to classify Europe's biological races. Anthropological race classifiers produced parallel geographies, histories and hierarchies of European peoples that were crucial to the creation of national identities and to the overtly political race discourses of eugenics and popular racist ideologues. They lent nationalism the invaluable prestige of natural science, and traced the histories, conflicts and relationships of ‘national races’ back into prehistory. Racial national character stereotypes meanwhile supported competing political ideologies. The book examines the interplay between class, gender and national identity narratives and the tensions and interactions between the scientific and political agendas of classifiers. Within the elaborate transnational networks of scientific communities, for example, they had to reconcile competing national narratives.

Dr Richard McMahon is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth, UK, where he studies the transnational networks and political narratives of EU Studies. He has published several edited volumes on both race science and European integration and worked at University College Cork, Ireland, and the University of Bristol, UK.


Racism Stereotypes Identity Politics European History Nationalism

Authors and affiliations

  • Richard McMahon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Portsmouth PortsmouthUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-0-230-36319-9
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-31846-6
  • Buy this book on publisher's site