Half-Caste [Book Review]

Half-Caste [Book Review]

The Eugenics Review
Volume 29, Number 2 (July 1937)
pages 141-142

Reviewed by Michael Fielding

Dover, Cedric. Half-Caste. London, 1937. Secker & Warburg. Pp. 324. Price 1os. 6d.

This book is dedicated to a member of the Council of the Eugenics Society. So if we are a bad lot, as bad as the author in his handpicked quotations from very back numbers of the review implies, there is at least one righteous person among us. It would be interesting to know why Mr. Dover, who carefully tells us that he completed this work in October 1936, and who has been in fairly close contact with the work and personalities of this Society, did not think it was anywhere worth mentioning that earlier in that year the Eugenics Society elected a Darwin Research student for the express purpose of studying the problems of race mixture; which is not a very sensible way of spending its money if the subject is one about which it has made up its mind. In the only reference that we can find to the Society’s present views on ethnic-crossing Mr. Dover tempers his disapproval, but so grudgingly and ungenerously as to give further point to his attack. The fact is that against eugenics Mr. Dover has much the same kind of prejudices that many persons have against the products of race-mixture. We believe that both he and they are mistaken. Mr. Dover would correct his errors by reading the Eugenics Review; they by reading his admirably written Half-Caste

His theme, summarized in a short sentence, is that there is no genuine scientific case against miscegenation. What often masquerades as such, and is presented as a case based upon the objective study of genetical and anthropological data, proves on Mr. Dover’s examination to be no more than a rationalization of colour prejudices, imperialism, and xenophobia. “To-day there are no half-castes because there are no fullcastes.”

“Accepting the validity of the racial view,” he writes, “it becomes clear that the attributes and status of marginal communities are essentially functions of their physical and social environment, and not of Divine displeasure or some mysterious incompatibility of ‘blood,’ a fluid which has nothing to do with informed social discussion. Certainly, there are disharmonic and socially maladjusted individuals in such communities. Perhaps, too, their incidence is higher than it is among more integrated groups, though that remains to be proved, but they are susceptible to the same methods of improvement that are applied to ‘pure’ peoples. I subscribe without qualification to the prevention of undeniably dysgenic matings, whether exogamous or endogamous, but not to the conceit that colour and economic success are indices of desirability.”…

Read the entire review here.

[Note from Steven F. Riley:  For more information about Cedric Dover, read Lucy Bland’s “British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation.”]

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