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Black Knowledges/Black StrugglesEssays in Critical Epistemology$
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Jason R. Ambroise and Sabine Broeck

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381724

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381724.001.0001

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Performing Scientificity: Race, Science, and Politics in the USA and Germany after the Second World War1

Performing Scientificity: Race, Science, and Politics in the USA and Germany after the Second World War1

(p.145) 6 Performing Scientificity: Race, Science, and Politics in the USA and Germany after the Second World War1
Black Knowledges/Black Struggles

Holger Droessler

Liverpool University Press

This chapter traces the postwar battle for scientific authority and political influence between the older guard of physical anthropologists and the rising group of social scientists in a transatlantic context. The charged terrain on which these battles over the meaning of race, science, and politics were fought was conditioned by the legitimizing role that the science of race played in the extermination of millions of human beings deemed ‘racially inferior’ by the German National Socialists. Both racial and social scientists employed an array of rhetorical and visual strategies to make their case in the debates about race, science, and politics. These strategies helped establish truth claims about their objects of study and defend a notion of science as an ‘objective’ endeavour, isolated from the broader historical and political debates of the time. Contrary to this belief in the putative objectivity of science, scientific research is always already embedded in the particular cultural, social, and political contexts of its time. The transatlantic debates between racial and social scientists after the Second World War serve as a powerful illustration of this fundamental interdependence between the construction of scientific objectivity and the political uses to which scientific research can be put. The chapter also highlights the longevity and malleability of racial science which have been generally neglected by scholars of racism and science.

Keywords:   scientific authority, political influence, social scientists, physical anthropologists, scientific research, racial science, race

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