The “Scientific” Roots: Nineteenth-Century Racism

  • Philip D. Curtin
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Not all racists were imperialists, nor were all imperialists racists of the most radical variety; but racism pervaded nineteenth-century European thought about the world overseas. From the 1870’s into the 1920’s and beyond, virtually every European concerned with imperial theory or imperial administration believed that physical racial appearance was an outward sign of inborn propensities, inclinations, and abilities. The selections that follow are therefore far too few to be truly representative, but they illustrate some of the common tendencies of the period.1


Human Race Differential Mortality Black Hair Civilise Nation Roman Domination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For a wider variety of selections, see E. W. Count, This Is Race (New York, 1950).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See P. D. Curtin, “Epidemiology and the Slave Trade,” Political Science Quarterly, 83:190–216 (1968)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. P. M. Ashburn, The Ranks of Death. A Medical History of the Conquest of America (New York, 1947)Google Scholar
  4. Woodrow Borah, “América como modelo? El impacto demográfico de la expansión europea sobre el mundo no europeo,” Cuadernos Americanos, 21:176–185 (1962).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    See P. D. Curtin, The Image of Africa (Madison, 1964), esp. pp. 330–331. Tulloch’s surveys appeared in the Parliamentary Sessional Papers cited hereafter as PP, 1837–38, xl [C.138]; 1839, xvi [C.166]; 1840, xxx [C.228]; 1842, xxvii [C.358].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 1.
    For Kidd’s relationship to other imperial ideas of his period, see B. Semmel, Imperialism and Social Reform (London, 1960), pp. 18–24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip D. Curtin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations