A Grammar of Black Masculinity: A Body of Science

  • Arthur F. Saint-Aubin


Eighteenth-century European science set out to codify common assumptions about dark male bodies; indeed, science began to recodify these assumptions since the efforts made during the 1700s were not new. Scientists undertook this recodification by providing a precise vocabulary to talk about racial difference and about the process of racial differentiation and by circumscribing black corporeality within a particular modality. Although scientific racism and racialism have led to a particularized reading, what one might label a “misreading,” of all bodies of color and certain marginalized white male bodies, I focus on the black male body because of its axial role in the history of science and thus in the narrative of white-supremacist patriarchy. Eighteenth-century science set out to illustrate natural law by establishing biological differences between different (i.e., black and white) bodies and by proving that these “natural” differences explain the differences between the races and between the civilized and the primitive.


White Woman Black Woman Black Masculinity White Race White Supremacy 
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.

Works Cited

  1. Baldwin, James. 1988. Giovanni’s Room. New York: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  2. Barthes, Roland. 1972. Mythologies. Translated by Annette Lavas New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  3. Broca, Paul. 1860. Recherches sur l’hybridité animale en général et sur l’hybridité humaine en particulier. Paris: Imprimerie de J. Claye.Google Scholar
  4. Drayton, William. 1836. The South Vindicated from the Treason and Fanaticism of the Northern Abolitionists. Philadelphia: H. Manly.Google Scholar
  5. English, William T. 1903. “The Negro Problem from the Physician’s Point of View.” Atlanta Journal-Record of Medicine V: 460–472.Google Scholar
  6. Fredrickson, George M. 1987. The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny 1817–1914., Wesleyan Mass: Wesleyan UP.Google Scholar
  7. Friedman, D. 2001. A Mind of its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Gould, Benjamin A. 1869. Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers. New York.Google Scholar
  9. Haller, John S. 1995. Outcasts from Evolution: Scientific Attitudes of Racial Inferiority, 1859–1900. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP.Google Scholar
  10. Howard, William Lee. 1903. “The Negro as a Distinct Ethnic Factor in Civilization.” Medicine (Detroit) IX: 420–433.Google Scholar
  11. Hunter, McGuire and G. Frank Lydston. 1893. “Sexual Crimes among Southern Negroes: Scientifically Considered.” Virginia Medical Monthly, XX (May).Google Scholar
  12. Jameson, Fredric. 1981. The Political Unconscious: Narratives as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Jefferson, Thomas. 1944. “Notes on Virginia.” The Life and Selected Writing of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Adrienne Koch and William Peden. New York, 256–262.Google Scholar
  14. Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  15. Lydston, Frank C. 1906. “Castration Instead of Lynching.” Atlanta Journal-Record of Medicine VIII: 457.Google Scholar
  16. Murrell, Thomas W. 1909. “Syphilis and the American Negro: A Medico-Sociological Study.” Medical Society of Virginia. Transactions.Google Scholar
  17. Sekula, Alan. 1986. “The Body and the Archive.” October 39: 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schiebinger, Londa. 1993. Nature’s body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Shute, D. Kerfoot. 1896. “Racial Anatomical Peculiarities.” New York Journal of Medicine LXIII (April): 500.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, Shawn Michelle. 2000. “Looking at One’s Self through the Eyes of Others: W.E.B. DuBois’s Photographs for the 1900 Exposition.” African American Review 34, 4: 581–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Lahoucine Ouzgane and Robert Morrell 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur F. Saint-Aubin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations