BOOK: Darwinism, Democracy, and Race: American Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology in the Twentieth Century

This new book of possible interest to readers would be a good one to request your academic library purchase, as it is a hefty price, as one of the co-authors notes in this list of what you could purchase instead for the same price.


John P. Jackson Jr. and David J. Depew, Darwinism, Democracy, and Race: American Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology in the Twentieth Century (New York: Routledge, 2017), 252 pp.

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Publisher’s description Darwinism, Democracy, and Race examines the development and defence of an argument that arose at the boundary between anthropology and evolutionary biology in twentieth-century America. In its fully articulated form, this argument simultaneously discredited scientific racism and defended free human agency in Darwinian terms. The volume is timely because it gives readers a key to assessing contemporary debates about the biology of race. By working across disciplinary lines, the book’s focal figures–the anthropologist Franz Boas, the cultural anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, and the physical anthropologist Sherwood Washburn–found increasingly persuasive ways of cutting between genetic determinist and social constructionist views of race by grounding Boas’s racially egalitarian, culturally relativistic, and democratically pluralistic ethic in a distinctive version of the genetic theory of natural selection. Collaborators in making and defending this argument included Ashley Montagu, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Lewontin. Darwinism, Democracy, and Race will appeal to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and academics interested in subjects including Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Sociology of Race, History of Biology and Anthropology, and Rhetoric of Science.

3 thoughts on “BOOK: Darwinism, Democracy, and Race: American Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology in the Twentieth Century

  1. $140 for 252 pages seems excessive, especually for a book that has, I presume, little in the way of illustrations. The publisher, Routledge, is now, after a distinguished history, owned by Taylor and Francis, whose predatory pricing and publishing I have commented on elsewhere: The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct”, and other gems from Taylor and Francis

    I have resolved never to write for a Taylor and Francis publication.

  2. Paul, Hence why I suggested folks request their academic library purchase it… 🙂

    In the John Tyndall correspondence I am working with, one of his correspondents is William Francis, editor of the Philosophical Magazine and partner with Taylor.

  3. It’s fair enough for books to be priced for the specialist library market. I think Tayor and Francis goes beyond this. The authors, academics, will receive a royalty, but their real reward is the chance to reach an audience, and to enhance their reputations within, and beyond, their institutions. Editorial input will be minimal, and possible from other academics. Production costs will be low; page setting is largely computerised, and these days even single copies can be generated cheaply on demand.

    I explained in my blogpost exactly why I see the business model of Taylor and Francis as particularly damaging. I will not have dealings with them, although I know that companies must show return on investment, and I do have dealings with other commercial/academic publishers.

    None of which is intended as any reflection on the present authors. We academics just don’t really think about such matters. It’s time we did.

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