GalleryDAAS: Photographs by Ed West

Posted in Africa, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2014-03-11 19:08Z by Steven

GalleryDAAS: Photographs by Ed West

University of Michigan
G648 Haven Hall
505 S State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
2014-03-13 through 2014-05-02
Opening Reception: 2014-03-14, 17:30-20:00 CDT (Local Time)

Hosted by the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS)

GalleryDAAS presents So Called, a photography series by award-winning artist and U-M professor Edward West. Curated by Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo, So Called is a transnational project about multi-ethnic identities in three locations: Honolulu, Hawaii, Havana, Cuba and Cape Town, South Africa. The series includes photographic portraits of individuals drawn from these communities and focuses on the issue of race, specifically the mixing of races and its social complexities. While the mixing of races has long been a consequence of diasporic/nomadic history, we have only recently found a place in our cultural imaginary for a fuller representation of these collective and individual identities and destinies. The introduction of a mixed race category on the U.S. census, literary and filmic treatments of racialized lives, the emergence of postcolonial studies, all suggest an expanded space for the reception of ideas and issues concerning creolization. See GalleryDAAS here.

A practicing artist for more than 30 years, Edward West’s creative work includes photography, collage, and installation. His exhibitions include installations at the Smithsonian Institution, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rose Art Museum in Boston, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of American Art, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

For more information, click here.

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Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

Posted in Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2014-02-23 22:48Z by Steven

Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

University of California, San Diego
2013
320 pages

Maile Renee Arvin

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnic Studies

This dissertation analyzes how scientific knowledge has represented the Polynesian race as an essentially mixed, “almost white” race. Nineteenth and twentieth century scientific literature—spanning the disciplines of ethnology, physical anthropology, sociology and genetics—positioned Polynesians as the biological relatives of Caucasians. Scientific proof of this relationship allowed scientists, policymakers, and popular media to posit European and American settler colonialism in the Pacific as a peaceful and natural fulfillment of a biological destiny. Understanding knowledge as an important agent of settler colonial possession—in the political as well as supernatural, haunting connotations of that word— this project seeks to understand how Polynesians (with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians) have been bodily “possessed,” along with the political and economic possession of their lands. Thus, the project traces a logic of “possession through whiteness” in which Polynesians were once, and under the salutary influence of settler colonialism, will again be white.

The project’s analysis coheres around four figures of the “almost white” Polynesian race: the ancestrally white Polynesian of ethnology and Aryanism (1830s- 1870s), the Part-Hawaiian of physical anthropology and eugenics (1910s-1920s), the mixed-race “Hawaiian girl” of sociology (1930s-1940s), and the mixed-race, soon-to-be white (again) Polynesian of genetics, whose full acceptance in Hawaiʻi seemed to provide a model of racial harmony to the world (1950s). Rather than attempting to uncover “racist” scientific practices, the project reveals how historical scientific literature produced knowledge about the Polynesian race that remains important in how Native Hawaiians are recognized (and misrecognized) in contemporary scientific, legal and cultural spheres.

In addition to the historical analysis, the project also examines contemporary Native Hawaiian responses to the logic of possession through whiteness. These include regenerative actions that radically displace whiteness, such as contemporary relationship building between Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. At the same time, other regenerative actions attempt to reproduce Native Hawaiian-ness with a standard of racial purity modeled on whiteness, including legal fights waged over blood quantum legislation. Overall, the project provides a scientific genealogy as to how Polynesians have been recognized as “almost white,” and questions under what conditions this possessive recognition can be refused.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Signature Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Vita
  • Abstract of the Dissertation
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Polynesian Problem and its Genomic Solutions
    • Part 1: Defining the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.1.1: From Who to Whose: Origins, Identity, and Possession of the Indigenous Pacific
      • 1.1.2: Polynesia Through the Christian Lens of Degeneration
      • 1.1.3: Heirlooms of the Aryan Race
    • Part 2: (Un)Mapping Humanity: Genetic Sameness and Mixture in the Pacific
      • 1.2.1: Genetically “Solving” the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.2.2: The Hawaiian Genome Project
  • Chapter 2: “Still in the Blood”: Past and Present Configurations of the “Part-Hawaiian”
    • Part 1: Eugenic Thinking About Native Hawaiian Betterment
      • 2.1.1: Eugenics Pedagogy in Hawaiʻi: Uldrick Thompson’s Hopes for the Hawaiian “Remnant”
      • 2.1.2: Sullivan’s “Two Types” of Polynesians
    • Part 2: Leveraging Blood and Whiteness
      • 2.2.1: Polynesian Blood and the Pre-requisite of Whiteness
      • 2.2.2: Calling the Law on “Native Hawaiians with a Capital N”
  • Chapter 3: Re-envisioning “Hybrid” and “Hapa”: Race, Gender and Indigeneity in Hawaiʻi as Racial Laboratory
    • Part 1: Hybrid Hawaiian Types: Native Hawaiian Women in Hawaiʻiʻs Racial Laboratory
      • 3.1.1: The Racial Laboratory of Romanzo Adams and the Chicago School of Sociology
      • 3.1.2: Hybrid Hawaiian Girls
    • Part 2: Hapa and Whole
      • 3.2.1: Kip Fulbeck’s Vision of Hapa as a “Whole” New Race
      • 3.2.2: Re-constellations of Asian Settlers, Haoles Settlers, and Native Hawaiians
  • Chapter 4: Beyond Recognition: Native Hawaiians, Human Rights, and Global Indigenous Identities
    • Part 1: Polynesia and Hawaiʻi in the Science of Race After World World II
      • 4.1.1: The Polynesian Problem as Anti-Racist Example
      • 4.1.2: “Tropical Democracy” and the Science of Stabilizing Mixed Race
    • Part 2: Reframing Recognition: Indigenous Rights and Relationships in Oceania and Beyond
      • 4.2.1: Polynesian / Pacific / Pacific Islander
      • 4.2.2: Indigenous / Non-Self-Governing Territory
      • 4.2.3: Native American / Alaska Native / Idle No More
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Hawai’i’s Interracial History, Culture, and Tradition: Construction and Deconstruction (Sawyer Seminar VIII)

Posted in Anthropology, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Oceania on 2014-02-21 08:58Z by Steven

Hawai’i’s Interracial History, Culture, and Tradition: Construction and Deconstruction (Sawyer Seminar VIII)

University of Southern California, University Park Campus
Doheny Memorial Library
East Asian Seminar Room (110C)
Friday, 2014-02-28, 09:00-13:00 PST (Local Time)

How are islands connectors of flows of peoples and culture? What types of constructions and deconstructions of race and identity have influenced Hawai’i’s interracial history? How might the past impact the future of racial/ethnic relations on the Hawaiian islands?

PRESENTERS

“Hybrid” and “Hapa”: Challenging the Construction of Hawai‘i as America’s Racial Laboratory

Maile Arvin, University of Santa Cruz, California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow; Ph.D. UC San Diego
Author of Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race (2013).

“Chinese-Hawaiian Hybrids,” “Hapa Haoles,” and Other Categories: Mixed Race and Racial Consciousness Across the Native-Settler Divide in Territorial Hawai‘i

Christine Manganaro, Assistant Professor
Maryland Institute College of Art
Author of Assimilating Hawai‘i: Racial Science in a Colonial Laboratory, 1919-1959 (forthcoming)

Respondent:

Duncan Williams, Associate Professor of Religion
University of Southern California

For more information, click here.

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Intermarriage, even at high rates, does not, however, encompass or even represent the scope and nature of ethnic relations in society.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-04-04 04:01Z by Steven

Intermarriage, even at high rates, does not, however, encompass or even represent the scope and nature of ethnic relations in society. While clearly influenced by the structure of ethnic group relations, intermarriage nonetheless is still fundamentally an interpersonal relationship. There has been a decided tendency to overemphasize the significance of outmarriage on the overall quality of interethnic relations in Hawai‘i. High rates of intermarriage may indicate an ethnically tolerant society but not necessarily a harmonious or egalitarian one.

Jonathan Y. Okamura, “The Illusion of Paradise: Privileging Multiculturalism in Hawai‘i,” in Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, edited by Dru C. Gladney (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1998), 269.

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Assimilating Hawai‘i: Racial Science in a Colonial “Laboratory,” 1919-1939

Posted in Anthropology, Dissertations, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-09-21 21:57Z by Steven

Assimilating Hawai‘i: Racial Science in a Colonial “Laboratory,” 1919-1939

University of Minnesota
July 2012
322 pages

Christine Leah Manganaro

A DISSERTATION IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

This dissertation demonstrates how American physical anthropologists and sociologists working in Hawai‘i framed the biological and cultural assimilation of mixed race people and Asian migrants into Americanness as natural rather than ideological, thus naturalizing the islands’ incorporation into the United States as a story about integration rather than colonization. Scientists argued that mixing in this “racial laboratory” improved the quality of the majority non-white population, that migration and colonization were features of a natural historical trajectory of Americanization, and that race relations in the islands were the product of a human ecology that went hand in hand with capitalist development. All of these ideas became the racial common sense that traveled to the continental U.S. and perpetuated American amnesia about empire.

This project revisits the historiography of the supposed retreat of scientific racism and, by closely examining the methods, actual data, and conclusions of scientists whose work shaped their disciplines, demonstrates how racialist thinking persisted in work that has been characterized as either questioning the race concept, as politically progressive, or both. Taking cues from studies of settler colonialism in Hawai‘i and recent debate about the actuality of a retreat of scientific racism in the United States, this dissertation demonstrates how treating assimilation as a natural process that needed to be better understood, rather than a discursive project of colonial governance, legitimated American power in the islands.

During a period when scientists and politicians alike were interested in fitness, degeneracy, and the consequences of immigration and miscegenation as part of debates about national progress, scientists viewed Hawai‘i as a laboratory where they could conduct research on heredity and cultural change that was difficult or impossible to do in the continental United States. American social scientists working in Hawai‘i framed the processes they studied, particularly the assimilation of mixed race people and Asian migrants into American culture and identity, as natural rather than ideological. American scientists with sometimes opposing political orientations such as Louis R. Sullivan and L.C. Dunn concluded that, unlike mixed race people generally and especially “mulattoes,” Chinese-Hawaiian “hybrids” were actually improvements on their supposedly pure parents (chapter 1).

Physical anthropologist Harry Shapiro, in his study of racial plasticity among migrants in a changed environment, developed few concrete findings, but helped establish Hawai‘i as a long-term human research site. Sociologist Romanzo Adams, who was trained at the University of Chicago, produced the history of Hawai‘i as a history of admixture that exaggerated the degree of interracial reproduction and suggested that the territorial population was well on its way to complete biological amalgamation (chapter 3).

Through a series of interviews with couples in interracial marriages and the collection of student papers about identity and racial prejudice, many of which contradicted Adams’ findings and predictions, graduate researcher Margaret M. Lam recorded the testimony of residents who both resisted certain types of racialization as they also participated in the construction and maintenance of racial boundaries and meanings (chapter 4).

Finally, sociologist Andrew Lind, framed social inequality and tense race relations in the territory as a product of competition for jobs and housing, a “natural” feature of “human ecology,” rather than a product of intentional labor control and government decisions (chapter 5). This advanced the idea that social conditions in Hawai‘i were a natural product of modernization rather colonization.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: “Biologically Better” Studies and Hybrids: The Persistence of Racialism in Studies of Race Mixing in Territorial Hawai‘i, 1916-1932
  • Chapter 2: A Racial Laboratory for the World: Establishing Studies of Race Mixing, Migration, and Environment in the 1930s
  • Chapter 3: Turning a Colony into a Melting Pot: Romanzo Adams’ Interracial Marriage in Hawaii and the Natural History of Hawai‘i’s Americanization, 1919-1937
  • Chapter 4: Narrating Colonial Racial Formation: Race Consciousness and Identity in the Vernacular, 1928-1936
  • Chapter 5: Defining an “Island Community”: Race Relations as Ecological Succession, 1927-1939
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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President Obama’s basketball love affair has roots in Hawaii high school team

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2012-06-10 18:39Z by Steven

President Obama’s basketball love affair has roots in Hawaii high school team

The Washington Post
2012-06-09

David Maraniss

To say that President Obama loves basketball understates the role of the sport in his life. He has been devoted to the game for 40 years now, ever since the father he did not know and never saw again gave him his first ball during a brief Christmastime visit. Basketball is central to his self identity. It is global yet American-born, much like him. It is where he found a place of comfort, a family, a mode of expression, a connection from his past to his future. With foundation roots in the Kansas of his white forebears, basketball was also the city game, helping him find his way toward blackness, his introduction to an African American culture that was distant to him when he was young yet his by birthright.

As a teenager growing up in Hawaii,he dreamed the big hoops dream. He had posters of the soaring Dr. J on his bedroom wall. A lefty, he practiced the spin moves of Tiny Archibald. And in the yearbook of an older high school classmate who wanted to be a lawyer, he wrote: “Anyway, been great knowing you and I hope we keep in touch. Good luck in everything you do, and get that law degree. Some day when I am an all-pro basketballer, and I want to sue my team for more money, I’ll call on you. Barry.”

It never happened, of course. But the adolescent known as Barry kept on playing, even after he took back his given name of Barack and went off to college at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard and went into community organizing, then politics in Illinois. He played whenever he could on playgrounds, in fancy sport clubs, at home, on the road. During his first trip back to Honolulu after being elected president, he rounded up a bunch of his old high school pals, got the key to the gym at Punahou School, and went at it. When the pickup game was over, Darryl Gabriel, who had been the star of their championship-winning team, found himself muttering to another former teammate, “Man, Barack is a lot better than Barry ever was!”…

Read the entire article here.

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Ethnographic Pictorialism: Caroline Gurrey’s Hawaiian Types at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2012-05-20 23:43Z by Steven

Ethnographic Pictorialism: Caroline Gurrey’s Hawaiian Types at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition

History of Photography
Volume 36, Issue 2 (May 2012)
pages 172-183
DOI: 10.1080/03087298.2012.654943

Heather Waldroup, Associate Professor of Art History
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina

In 1909, a series of photographs by Honolulu portraitist Caroline Gurrey was exhibited at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. The photographs, which combine elements of the Pictorialist style and ethnographic photography, are portraits of young men and women of either Native Hawaiian or mixed-race heritage. The archival record indicates that the photographs were purchased in Honolulu by a member of the Exposition’s administration, and Gurrey’s original intention for them is currently unknown. Nevertheless, the author argues that through their display at the AYPE an exposition that stressed industry, expansion and commerce as its key themes Gurrey’s portraits served a significant role in the articulation and visualisation of the Exposition’s central goals and the United States’s desires for settlement of the newly-acquired Territory of Hawaii by bourgeois white agriculturalists.

A portfolio of portraits of Hawaiian teenagers created by Caroline Hawkins Gurrey in 1909 tells a rich story about the intersection of American imperial interests and the persuasive powers of photography in the early twentieth century, Gurrev was already a successful portrait photographer in Honolulu when this portfolio was selected to be exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacifc Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle during the summer of 1909. She photographed a number of Honolulu’s elite, such as Sanford Dole, using the Pictorialist style, and was known for producing various photographs documenting life in contemporary Hawai‘i. The fifty photographs in the Hawaiian Types’ series—now held at the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives—were chosen and displayed by the AVPE’s administration to illustrate Hawaii’s racial landscape for a very large audience of fairgoer. The photographs’ style which combines tropes of ethnographic photography with the aesthetics of Pictorialism, underscores a key goal ol the AYPE: to combine supposed truth with aesthetic beauty in order to market Hawai‘i to potential settlers of the relatively new American territory…

Read or purchase the article here.

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‘Beautiful Hybrids’: Caroline Gurrey’s Photographs of Hawai‘i’s Mixed-race Children

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2012-05-19 01:50Z by Steven

‘Beautiful Hybrids’: Caroline Gurrey’s Photographs of Hawai‘i’s Mixed-race Children

History of Photography
Volume 36, Issue 2 (May 2012)
pages 184-198
DOI: 10.1080/03087298.2012.654947

Anne Maxwell, Associate Professor of English
University of Melbourne, Australia

In the early years of the twentieth century the Hawaiian-based American photographer Caroline Gurrey produced a much praised set of the photographs of Hawai‘i’s ‘mixed race’ children. Critics have noted that stylistically Gurrey’s photographs belong to the pictorialist school and possibly even to the high art style of the Photo-Seccessionists, however research into her background and life, and the contexts in which these photographs were produced and consumed, suggests that if we want a fuller understanding of both Gurrey’s intentions and these photographs’ historical importance, we should also take note of the part they played in the burgeoning eugenics movement and indigenous Hawaiians’ reactions to American imperialism.

According to Naomi Rosenblum, professional women photographers did not emerge until the 1880s, following a shift in attitudes concerning female education and employment opportunities. When this occurred, there was a veritable explosion of female interest in the medium so that bv the early twentieth century not only were there thousands of amateur women photographers but the numbers taking up photography (or professional and artistic reasons were also large. Historians of photography have investigated the achievements of these early women photographers, with the result that over the last decade a rough consensus as to who were the most important has emerged. Not surprisingly, most of those singled out are from the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany, where the technology and the professional and social networks supporting early photography were most advanced. Missing are the professional women photographers who lived and worked in the smaller western and non-western countries adjacent or peripheral to these larger ones. Although fewer in number, these women warrant historical and critical attention, if only because the limited institutional support available in these places meant they had to labour that much harder to achieve recognition.

One such is the Hawai‘i-based American photographer Caroline Gurrey (whose name before marriage was Haskins), who was active during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Gurrey gained limited critical acclaim while she was alive, but because of her Hawaiian location, and because she was obliged to abandon her artistic ambitions for photojournalism, her name has now virtually sunk into oblivion. Of the few contemporary critics who know of Gurrey’s achievements, most agree that her most important works are the artistic portraits of Hawai‘i’s…

Read or purchase the article here.

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S.66, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement bill in the 112th Congress — Reauthorizing an ineffective but socially dangerous pork-barrel waste of taxpayer dollars

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-03-24 19:25Z by Steven

S.66, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement bill in the 112th Congress — Reauthorizing an ineffective but socially dangerous pork-barrel waste of taxpayer dollars

Hawaii Reporter
2011-03-07

Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.

S.66 is a bill in the 112th Congress entitled “The Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act,” introduced by Senator Dan Inouye on January 15, 2011. At the end of February the bill had no cosponsors—not even the figurehead champion of ethnic Hawaiians, Senator Dan Akaka.
 
The bill’s stated purpose is to re-authorize and expand previous legislation going back to 1988 which established Papa Ola Lokahi, the federally-funded ethnic Hawaiian healthcare system—one of the largest racially exclusionary programs for the benefit of ethnic Hawaiians. (There are more than a thousand Hawaiians-only programs; see “references”).
 
A hidden purpose of S.66 is to restate and enshrine language from the apology resolution of 1993 and the failed Akaka bill of 2000 to 2010. S.66 would thereby bolster the claim that the federal government already recognizes ethnic Hawaiians as an Indian tribe, thus strengthening legal defenses against 14th Amendment challenges to Hawaii’s plethora of racial entitlement programs…

…Some defenders of race-based medicine assert that ethnic Hawaiians are a unique people with unique social customs requiring a culture-based medical delivery system. But nearly all ethnic Hawaiians are of mixed race. They live, work, play, and pray right next to people of other races in Hawaii’s fully integrated multicultural society. Assimilated people don’t have unique social needs as a group, and should not be racially profiled or stereotyped that way. Hawaii has many first, second, or third generation U.S. citizens from countries which do indeed have very different cultures; but there are no demands for federally funded race-based or culture-based healthcare systems to serve them…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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Racial Hybridity, Physical Anthropology, and Human Biology in the Colonial Laboratories of the United States

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-02-27 21:50Z by Steven

Racial Hybridity, Physical Anthropology, and Human Biology in the Colonial Laboratories of the United States

Current Anthropology
Volume 53, Number S5 (April 2012)
DOI: 10.1086/662330
pages S95-S107

Warwick Anderson, Research Professor of History
University of Sydney

In the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. physical anthropologists imagined Hawai‘i as a racial laboratory, a controllable site for the study of race mixing and the effects of migration on bodily form. Gradually a more dynamic and historical understanding of human populations came to substitute for older classificatory and typological approaches in the colonial laboratory, leading to the creation of the field of human biology and challenges to scientific racism. Elite U.S. institutions and philanthropic foundations competed for the authority to define Pacific bodies and mentalities during this period. The emergent scientific validation of liberal Hawaiian attitudes toward human difference and race amalgamation or formation exerted considerable influence on biological anthropology after World War II, but ultimately it would fail in Hawai‘i to resist the incoming tide of continental U.S. racial thought and practice.

In 1920, Henry Fairfield Osborn, the forceful president of the American Museum of Natural History, wrote to a young physical anthropologist on his staff telling him how to conduct research into pure Polynesians and mixed-race people in Hawai‘i. Osborn had recently returned to New York from the islands—the territory of the United States—having found their exotic beauty enthralling and their inhabitants amenable to racial study. Like many other visitors, Osborn took surfing lessons on Waikiki with Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic swimmer, whom he regarded as a “model chieftain type.” “Do not fail to make the acquaintance of Duke,” the keen eugenicist Osborn urged Louis R. Sullivan, “and secure his measurements, ascertaining if you can, without giving offence, whether he is full blooded.” In particular, Osborn wanted the diffident, frail anthropologist, a student of Franz Boas at Columbia University, to “obtain any data regarding swimming adaptations in the limbs and feet.” He hoped, too, that bathing and surfing in the refreshing climate would improve Sullivan’s consumptive tendencies. Additionally, Osborn demanded measurements of other types, including “fishermen,” “poi makers,” “tapa makers,” and “hula dancers.” He heard that the “Hawaiian and Chinese blend is an excellent one; in the schools, intelligent, upright, persistent.” Collecting “primitive” types was compelling because Osborn planned a Polynesian hall at the American Museum; the United States boasted a “historic connection” with Hawai‘i, and the evaluation of racially mixed peoples might offer insight into contemporary social problems on the mainland, including New York.

During the 1920s, physical anthropologists from the American Museum of Natural History and Harvard University treated Hawai‘i as a racial “laboratory,” a controlled site where they might assess an experiment in human biology (MacLeod and Rehbock 1994). They came to the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu to study the origins of Polynesians and the process of contemporary race formation in the islands, presumably the result of environmental adaptation of newcomers and hybridization between different groups. In this sense, anthropologists such as Sullivan and his successor Harry L. Shapiro pursued a Boasian program in physical anthropology, elaborating on their mentor’s earlier work on race mixing and the modification of the bodies of immigrants, and producing dynamic and historical accounts of human difference (Boas 1910; Herskovits 1953; Kroeber 1942). Even though conservative eugenicists such as Osborn and his friend Charles B. Davenport initially had promoted research in the islands, the Pacific soon became a Boasian laboratory—to their consternation—a workshop for investigators skeptical of racial typologies and fixities. Most of these rising anthropologists arrived in Hawai‘i already discontented with the complicated and contradictory typological enterprise, and experiences there propelled their drift toward racial recusancy. The vast sea of islands, with Hawai‘i in the middle, proved an exemplary site where physical anthropology could be refashioned and a new human biology might emerge…

…Race Crossing in America

Louis Sullivan, Osborn’s young emissary, was not the first mainland expert to evaluate racial diversity and mixture in Hawai‘i. After studying the decline of the northern “Negro,” the punctilious statistician Frederick L. Hoffman traveled to the islands to investigate the effects of Pacific “miscegenation.” Not surprisingly, his analysis of vital statistics revealed the supposedly baleful results of “Hawaiian mongrelization,” thereby confirming his prejudices (Hoffman 1916, 1917, 1923). Alfred M. Tozzer, the Harvard anthropologist, was rather more sympathetic. From 1916, he visited his wife’s (haole) family on Oahu each summer and measured the bodies of Chinese-Hawaiian and white-Hawaiian neighbors. After struggling with the statistics of race crossing, Tozzer, a close friend of Boas, handed over his data on 508 subjects to Leslie C. Dunn, a progressive young geneticist. While lamenting the unreliable “pedigrees,” Dunn could find no signs of “degeneracy” among the mixed offspring—by which he meant no obvious physical disharmony or mental deficiency. He noted that the first generation of European-Polynesian crosses showed native pigmentation and lacked hybrid vigor, but supposedly Hawaiian corpulence disappeared and finer European features emerged. Dunn complained of the difficulties calculating white hybrids: whites seemed too heterogeneous to fit one type or even to sort neatly into conventional Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean divisions (Dunn 1923). After further analysis, Dunn (1928:2) decided that Hawaiian-Chinese crosses generally reverted toward their Asian ancestry in what he called “this great experiment in race mixture.”

Race mixture or miscegenation excited considerable scholarly interest and public indignation in the continental United States during the early twentieth century. According to the 1910 census, the number of self-identifying “mulattoes” in the U.S. population had risen to two million, more than 20% of African Americans. This development prompted concern among some white social theorists. In 1918, Madison Grant (1918) predicted the passing of the great white race: “mongrelization” across the globe was leading to dilution and degeneration. A few years later, Lothrop Stoddard (1921) echoed Grant’s predictions. Through the 1920s and 1930s, marriage between African Americans and European Americans remained illegal in more than 40 states but not in the insular territories (Hollinger 2003; Kennedy 2003; Moran 2001; Pascoe 1996; Sollors 2000; Spickard 1989; Williamson 1980). In 1924, Virginia promulgated the “one-drop” rule to define more rigidly the boundaries of white identity. The following year, Leonard “Kip” Rhinelander scandalized New York when he sued Alice Jones for passing as white and deceptively luring him into marriage. Black men accused of lustful behavior toward white women were still being lynched in the South. In 1935, the African American intellectual W. E. B. DuBois observed that fear of race mixing was “the crux of the so-called Negro problem in the United States” (DuBois 1980 [1935]:99). Nonetheless, in places such as Harlem, New York, a self-conscious and assertive “mulatto” culture emerged during this period (Huggins 1973; Watson 1995).

American physical anthropologists and scientists tried to elucidate the biological principles of this controversial social issue. Even in the 1890s, Franz Boas, a liberal Jewish-German émigré inspired by the environmentalism of his mentor Rudolf Virchow, was scouring American Indian reservations and boarding schools looking for “half bloods” to measure. He noticed that rather than blending their ancestry, mixed children manifested features favoring one or the other parent, but he thought this segregation of heredity scarcely constituted “degeneration,” however defined. Indeed, mixing seemed to have a “favorable effect upon the race” (Boas 1902, 1940 [1894]; Stocking 1982). Miscegenation also intrigued less sympathetic physical anthropologists. “I am seeking information concerning the offspring of mulattoes,” Charles B. Davenport wrote in 1906 to Aleš Hrdlička at the Smithsonian Institution. “That is, I wish to learn if white skin color and black are produced as well as mulattoes. Are such pairs of mulattoes perfectly fertile and are their children vigorous?” The anatomist Hrdlička was stumped. He suspected three-quarters of the people of color in Washington, DC, were part white, but the “question of the mixed bloods of white and Negroes and of their progeny still awaits scientific investigation.” Over the following years, Hrdlička frequently urged the aging eugenicist to use the resources of the research station at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, to look into this question. But not until the late 1920s did Davenport enlist Morris Steggerda to measure and assess sociologically mixed-race people—and then in Jamaica. By this time their condemnation of disharmonious race crossing would appear exceptionally vehement and absurd. The scientists worried that Jamaican “hybrids,” inheriting the short arms of whites and the long legs of blacks, had trouble stooping and picking things off the ground; browns became “muddled and wuzzle-headed” (Davenport and Steggerda 1929:469)…

Read the entire article here.

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