The Introduction frames the study of racial photography as scientific evidence. Based on the works of Lorraine Daston and Ian Hacking, the chapter develops the notion of “practical epistemology” as a method of analyzing different author’s assumptions that guided their uses of photography in the study of race. It then characterizes the form of “reactionary logic” to which the majority of writers studied in this book adhered, and the contradiction that undercut the work of racial writers: the belief in the self-evidence of race as well as a belief in its threatening and growing fluidity and concealment. It traces the appearance of the term “pseudo-science” as a countering to the term “Jewish science.” The chapter ends in arguing that the imagination is as important for the history of racial photography as visual perception.
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