Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Africa as a Living LaboratoryEmpire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Helen Tilley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226803463

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226803487.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 July 2021

A Racial Laboratory

A Racial Laboratory

Imperial Politics, Race Prejudice, and Mental Capacity

(p.217) Chapter Five A Racial Laboratory
Africa as a Living Laboratory
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates the mixed fortunes of racial politics and racial science, and illustrates just how ambivalent imperial authorities were about privileging race as a primary prism for settling colonial questions. It specifically reviews the history of racial science in British Africa in the wider context of imperial and transnational research priorities. It is found that people could, and usually did, find support from legitimate scientific sources for whatever position they wished to uphold. The issue of “racial discrimination” had become an explicit factor in inter-imperial decision making. Moreover, there were concerns over racial degeneration and “social decay” in both Europe and Africa. As racial science was increasingly discredited and marginalized, the conceptual foundations of racial states also came to be more unstable. The recalibration of racial politics around the world combined with the uncertainties surrounding racial science successfully sabotaged justifications of imperial rule on racial grounds.

Keywords:   racial politics, racial science, imperial authorities, race, British Africa, racial degeneration, social decay, imperial rule

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.