How the Use by Eugenicists of Family Trees and Other Genealogical Technologies Informed and Reflected Discourses on Race and Race Crossing during the Era of Moral Condemnation: Mixed-Race in 1920s and 1930s Britain

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2018-07-06 04:00Z by Steven

How the Use by Eugenicists of Family Trees and Other Genealogical Technologies Informed and Reflected Discourses on Race and Race Crossing during the Era of Moral Condemnation: Mixed-Race in 1920s and 1930s Britain

Genealogy
Volume 2, Issue 3 (September 2018)
Special Issue “Genealogy and Multiracial Family Histories
2018-07-05
15 pages
DOI: 10.3390/genealogy2030021

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader
Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury

In the 1920s and 30s, significant empirical studies were undertaken on mixed-race (‘hybrid’) populations in Britain’s seaport communities. The physical anthropologists Rachel Fleming and Kenneth Little drew on the methods of anthropometry, while social scientist Muriel Fletcher’s morally condemnatory tract belongs to the genre of racial hygiene. Whether through professional relationships, the conduct of their work, or means of disseminating their findings, they all aligned themselves with the eugenics movement and all made use of pedigree charts or other genealogical tools for tracing ancestry and investigating the inheritance of traits. These variously depicted family members’ races, sometimes fractionated, biological events, and social circumstances which were not part of genealogy’s traditional family tree lexicon. These design features informed and reflected prevailing conceptualisations of race as genetic and biological difference, skin colour as a visible marker, and cultural characteristics as immutable and hereditable. It is clear, however, that Fleming and Little did not subscribe to contemporary views that population mixing produced adverse biological consequences. Indeed, Fleming actively defended such marriages, and both avoided simplistic, ill-informed judgements about human heredity. Following the devastating consequences of Nazi racial doctrines, anthropologists and biologists largely supported the 1951 UNESCO view that there was no evidence of disadvantageous effects produced by ‘race crossing’.

Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Genealogical Technologies
  • Case Studies of the Eugenic Use of Genealogical Technologies in Studies of Mixed-Race
  • Intersections between Eugenicists’ Use of Genealogical Technologies, Discourses on Race, and the Biological Consequences of ‘Race Crossing’
  • Conclusions
  • Funding
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • References

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2011-10-07 02:42Z by Steven

The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Journal of Historical Sociology
Volume 21, Issue 2-3 (August 2008)
Pages 213 – 241
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6443.2008.00336.x

Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

This article examines a controversial report that focused negatively on mixed heritage children born and raised in the city of Liverpool. The official title was: Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and Other Ports. The social researcher was Muriel E. Fletcher, who had been trained in the Liverpool School of Social Science at The University of Liverpool in the early 1920s.  The report was published in 1930 amid controversy for its openly stigmatizing content of children and mixed heritage families of African and European origin.  It could be deemed the official outset in defining Liverpool’s ‘half castes’ as a problem and blight to the “British way of life” in the city.

…Numerous ‘intellectual’ views held by white commentators, either consciously or unconsciously, or even a mixture of the two if we take the example of Ralph Williams, related to racialised discourse and they appear to have had a strong bearing on the complex nature of the anti-Black riots in 1919 Liverpool.  An outcome of this was to further stigmatise Black-white sexual relations in which the offspring of those liaisons were effectively branded as less-than human, degenerate, only to be despised and scorned by mainstream society.  Again, imbued in the rhetoric, was the notion of hybridity between Black-white unions being anomalous, which echoed the philosophy of the Eugenics Movement in Britain (Park 1930; Searle 1976: 43)….

…The aftermath of the anti-black riots in 1919 saw the problem of ‘half-caste’ children in Liverpool take on greater significance and the issue developed into a much discussed and analysed topic (King and King 1938; Rich 1984, 1986; Wilson 1992).  The debates engendered ‘intellectual’ legitimisation of racialised ideology that effectively produced a climate of opinion that sought to reduce the sexual interaction between Black and white people.  The corollary of this was to further stigmatise the mixed heritage population as a social problem that society had to be rid.  Some of the key racialised stereotypes associated with the term ‘half-caste’ will be made clearer through an examination of key Liverpool-based philanthropic organizations, which were set up to deal specifically with the ‘social problem’ caused by the progeny of Black and white relationships…

…Arguably, in relation to the Liverpool Black experience, the pivotal stigmatising report to be published in the history of poor ‘race relations’ in Liverpool was in regard to mixed heritage children and their family structure. Muriel E. Fletcher (1930), who had the full backing of Ms. Rachel Fleming, a prominent eugenicist (Jones 1982), and other contemporary pseudo-scientific intellectuals, conducted the research on behalf of the Liverpool Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children and published in 1930 a document entitled a Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and other Ports. It is a sociological report produced in the late 1920s and can be regarded as a nadir in the Liverpool mixed heritage population’s struggle to secure a positive social identity.  This ubiquitous racialised stigma was grounded in the eugenicist tradition of Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) and the Eugenics Society. The society viewed humans in terms of being ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ in stock (Jones 1982), and it is an overt philosophy throughout the report. Using eugenicist techniques, it is apparent that Fletcher attempted to study the physical and mental quality of ‘half-caste’ children.  Implicit in the research is the idea that the African and white British/European offspring were an anomaly in terms of human breeding. Eugenicists believed selective breeding could improve the physical and mental quality of humans by, e.g., ‘controlling’ the spread of inherited genetic abnormalities (which led in this era, 1920–1930s, to eugenics being abused by the Nazi Party in Germany to justify the extermination of thousands of ‘undesirable’ or mentally and physically ‘unfit’ humans)…

…Fletcher argued that ‘half-caste’ women were particularly vulnerable in Liverpool as they naturally consort with ‘coloured men’.  She maintains that ‘half-caste’ women were regarded as virtual social outcasts whose only escape from a life of perpetual misery was to marry a ‘coloured man’. As the opportunity in marrying a white man was, for a ‘half-caste’ woman, a near impossibility.  Again Fletcher points out:

Only two cases have been found in Liverpool of half-caste girls who have married white men, and in one of these cases the girl’s family forced the marriage on the man (1930a: 21).

It should be pointed out that this negative reflection of ‘half-caste’ girls in Liverpool is a major theme throughout the Fletcher Report.  Certainly the experience of mixed heritage women would require and deserves a study in itself, if only due to the significance and importance of highlighting the perspective of mixed heritage women in the history of Liverpool.  However, what is important here and central to this historical social research is to provide an insight into the racialised stigma that has impacted all individuals of mixed heritage in the Liverpool Black experience in terms of their collective social identity in the context of the city…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-07 02:40Z by Steven

British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation

New Formations
Number 60 (2007)
pages 66-78

Lucy Bland, Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology
London Metropolitan University

In 1937 a polemic entitled Half-Caste was published, heralding ‘the richness of hybrid potentiality’. Written by a self-defined Eurasian called Cedric Dover its opening pages indicated the extent of prejudice facing those of mixed race:

The ‘half-caste’ appears in a prodigal literature. It presents him … mostly as an undersized, scheming and entirely degenerate bastard. His father is a blackguard, his mother a whore … But more than all this, he is a potential menace to Western Civilisation, to everything that is White and Sacred…

This ‘prodigal literature’ included novels and ‘a vast mass of pseudo-science’ developed by ‘eugenists, anthropologists, sociologists and politicians’.  In the book’s Preface, written by British scientist Lancelot Hogben, it was eugenics that was singled out for condemnation: ‘An influential current of superstition (called National Socialism in Hitler’s Germany and Eugenics in England) claims the authority of science for sentiments which are the negation of civilised society’. Yet despite the negative tone of the Preface, and the reference to ‘pseudo-science’, Dover was clearly not uninfluenced by eugenics.  He cited a number of British eugenists in his ‘Acknowledgements’, and he dedicated his book to Ursula Lubbock (Mrs Grant Duff) an active member of Britain’s Eugenics Society. He also admitted: ‘I subscribe without qualification to the prevention of undeniably dysgenic matings … but not to the conceit that colour and economic success are indices of desirability’. His invocation of a different index of ‘desirability’ other than economic success was reminiscent of other socialists who espoused eugenics on their own terms.  Eugenics was sufficiently protean to be harnessed to different ideological beliefs, ranging from the ultra conservative to the social-reformist and socialist. What was new and unique about Dover’s particular take on eugenics was the centrality of the ‘half-caste’, who ‘must be regarded … as a portent of a new humanity—a portent to be encouraged by the stimulation of eugenical mixture …’

In contrast to his own positive eugenical reading, Dover recognised that most other exponents of eugenics in interwar Britain took a very different view of the ‘half-caste’, namely, as ‘potential menace to Western Civilisation’. Why did these eugenists (and indeed many of the British establishment) hold such a view? What did they think were the implications of the presence of the ‘half-caste’? What or who was unsettled by the presence of mixed race people? One way of exploring these concerns is through an analysis of a project set up by the British Eugenics Society to investigate what they called ‘race crossing’. An examination of this project not only throws light on the prevailing discourses on race differences and their measurement, whiteness, and Englishness, but it also enables us to test historian Barbara Bush’s claim that eugenics was ‘a strong element of inter-war racism’, and to get a clearer sense of the role played by British eugenics in the discussion and regulation of race…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Racial mixture in Great Britain: some anthropological characteristics of the Anglo-negroid cross (A Preliminary Report)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2011-06-21 04:46Z by Steven

Racial mixture in Great Britain: some anthropological characteristics of the Anglo-negroid cross (A Preliminary Report)

Eugenics Review
Volume 33, Number 4 (January 1942)
pages 112-120

K. L. Little
The Duckworth Laboratory
University Museum of Ethnology, Cambridge

With the exception of a large number of family studies secured by Miss R. M. Fleming, little anthropological attention has so far been given to the question of racial crossing in this country, although the presence of some fairly extensive hybrid communities in most of our sea-port cities affords an excellent opportunity for anthropometric investigation, particularly in respect to the Anglo-Negroid cross. The present paper, comprising a brief statistical analysis of the measurements of some ninety Anglo-Negroid or “Coloured” children, together with a smaller “White ” sample of forty drawn from the same environment, represents what it is hoped may be merely a prelude to a wider and statistically more adequate survey of the subject, especially as far as the adult element is concerned. The present data, including those of a small number of adults with one F1 adult exception, were gained entirely from a community in Cardiff, where all the subjects were born. In the course of the enquiry the opportunity was taken of examining a further sample of some eighty subjects mainly of Anglo-Arab and Anglo-Mediterranean parentage. These, however, have been omitted from the present discussion for considerations of space. The Anglo-Negroid adult sample is as yet too small for statistical treatment, and has similarly been omitted, although a few particulars as to its characters are given below.

Briefly stated, the aspects of racial crossing it is intended to cover comprise such questions as the segregation of both quantitative and qualitative physical characters in the hybrid population, the comparative variability of the respective groups, and comparative differences in growth and sex differences. In the light of these considerations it was decided to. employ as wide an assortment of characters as was practicable, and having regard to the specific racial stocks involved, i.e. Negroid and Caucasoid (White), to give special attention to those features which show clear differentiation between the parent stocks. In terms of the present facilities these may be listed as skin, hair and eye colour, lip thickness, nasal width and height and the corresponding nasal index, and the ratio of nasal depth to width. In addition, a fairly large number of characters possessing genetical rather than racial significance were chosen, and these included such features as head length, head breadth, facial length, etc., etc., from which the relevant cephalic, facial, fronto-jugal and other indices were obtained. Finally, two modifiable characters in the shape of stature and sitting height were included….

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2010-12-10 03:01Z by Steven

For some time past the writer has been in close contact with girls of Anglo-Chinese and Anglo-Negro origin who are unable to find employment because social stigma refuses to allow them to mix in our society in the ordinary way. They are British citizens, and they are the weakest of our citizens, and as such need protection. Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible. Liverpool, always to the fore in attempts towards civic betterment, has formed an “Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children” (Hon. Sec., Mr. G. E. Haynes, B.Sc., University Settlement, Nile Street, Liverpool), and a wholetime research worker [Muriel E. Fletcher] has been appointed. We hope that other seaport towns may soon follow this example of scientific research into a serious problem…

Rachel M. Fleming, “Human hybrids in various parts of the world,” The Eugenics Review, Volume 21, Number 4, (January 1930) 257–263.

Tags: , , , , ,

Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2010-12-09 01:33Z by Steven

Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Eugenics Review
Volume 21, Number 4 (January 1930)
pages 257–263

Rachel M. Fleming

Political issues involving the right of so-called ‘superior’ races to preserve privileges denied to other races on account of their so-called ‘inferiority’ are tending to darken counsel in the study of racial biology. Another form of political effort is a desire to demonstrate separateness of physical type, so that a subject race may claim autonomy. It is only with painful slowness that man is learning to study himself scientifically and dispassionately, and to apply biological and genetical laws) to his own case. Humanity to-day is the result of long racial crossing; it is difficult to apply the term “pure” to any physical type. All human races are capable of fertile crossing one with another, and man’s tendency to wander both over land and sea, frequently unaccompanied by the women of his own type, has led to marked heterogeneity of inheritance everywhere. The story of the “Sons of God” and the “daughters of men” is world wide and possibly as old as the oldest prehistoric find. And yet in a book published in 1928 we read, “Only a pure race is a strong race”; while the facile statement that the coloured half-caste inherits the worst of both sides, as if the laws of heredity bowed to our colour prejudice, is commonly quoted and believed…

SUPERIOR HALF-CASTES

E. Rodenwaldt has therefore rendered a great service to the study of human heredity by seizing the opportunity of examining the results of an experiment in human crossing which has been worked out in Kisar, an island in the East Indies 127°35’E. long., 8°5’S. lat. His results are published in Die Mestizen auf Kisar (in German) in two volumes, one of which gives detailed measurements and photographs of the Mestizos (half-castes) whom he observed. It contains a remarkable family tree showing the very complicated inter-marriages between the descendants of Mestizo families, and also, by an ingenious device, indicating their skin, eye, and hair colour heredity. No student of human heredity can afford to omit the study of these volumes. The Mestizos of Kisar are ideal material for such a study. The Dutch East Company had a station here in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and soldiers of Dutch, French, German, and British nationality became the ancestors of the Mestizos. From 1819 onwards the island was no longer a station for troops, and the half-caste families formed a group which felt itself superior to the natives and tended to inter-marry. Thus we have available for research a sort of natural experiment in human breeding which has gone on for about two centuries…

…ANGLO-NEGRO AND ANGLO-CHINESE

Recently the writer visited Cape Town and had many conversations with workers among the ‘coloured’ (half-caste) colony there. One worker of long experience had observed the same rule of a higher cultural level and a general demand for better living conditions among those with a large admixture of white blood. He suggested that encouragement of intermixture between the best of the coloured people and the whites would tend to raise the standard of life in Cape Town. Some ‘coloured’ people with a large admixture of white blood showed such small traces of native inheritance that they had “passed over” into the white section and were making good there. Needless to say, this solution is most unpalatable to advocates of  ‘race purity,’ and there may be sound objections to it. On the other hand, it may ultimately be less harmful than the present cruel system of stigmatizing the half-caste socially, and so creating a moral and social environment for him which adds undesirables to the community. For some time past the writer has been in close contact with girls of Anglo-Chinese and Anglo-Negro origin who are unable to find employment because social stigma refuses to allow them to mix in our society in the ordinary way. They are British citizens, and they are the weakest of our citizens, and as such need protection. Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible. Liverpool, always to the fore in attempts towards civic betterment, has formed an “Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children” (Hon. Sec., Mr. G. E. Haynes, B.Sc., University Settlement, Nile Street, Liverpool), and a wholetime research worker [Muriel E. Fletcher] has been appointed. We hope that other seaport towns may soon follow this example of scientific research into a serious problem…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Race Crossing

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, History, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2010-08-13 03:07Z by Steven

…Fleming’s use of the term ‘passing’ is also worthy of comment. Not only does it have the connotation of deceit and disguise, but it also implies that the offspring of mixed heritage could never be truly English, despite their birth in England and their English mothers. To cross racial boundaries (‘race crossing’) had two meanings: crossing the ‘colour line’ in terms of sexual relationships, and crossing races in the sense of being of mixed race. The white women who crossed the colour line and gave birth to mixed race children were not aliens as such, but liminally placed by virtue of their ‘unBritish’, ‘unpatriotic’ behaviour. Where the mothers were Irish, as some were (as Hodson noted) the mixed race children were even less likely to have been permitted the mantle of Englishness, for the Irish were not only ‘not English’, but frequently seen as ‘not white’ either. There was (and is) a hierarchy of whiteness, in which some people were/are white only some of the time, such as Irish, Latinos, and Jews. Fleming’s assumption that mixed race children were not, and implicitly could not, be English, sounds not dissimilar from the ‘one drop of black blood’ rule that was operating at this time in US Deep South. This ‘rule’ proclaimed that even a single black person in ones ancestry deemed one black. The system was a means of policing entry to the privileged category ‘white’. In the context of Britain in the interwar, the Eugenics Society was concerned with classifying and codifying those of mixed race in an attempt to reduce the threat to racial and national boundaries represented by their presence…

Lucy Bland. “British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation”, New Formations. 2007,  Number 60, pages 66-78.

Tags: ,