In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology, and Empire in France, 1850-1950
Alice Conklin, in conversation with Emmanuelle Saada, Vincent Debaene and Gregory Mann
In the 19th century, anthropology in France meant the physical study and ranking of the different races of humanity, past and present. The most prominent branch of this new discipline was a profoundly dehumanizing racial science; yet when a 20th-century school of socio-cultural anthropology challenged the belief that race determined human capacity, it later stood accused of living off the brutal European empires that enabled modern fieldwork in the first place. Taking as its focus the Muse de l'Homme in interwar Paris, In the Museum of Man offers a new reading of the thorny relationship between science, society, and imperialism at the high-water mark of European racism. Alice Conklin is a Professor of History at Ohio State University. Her previous works include A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895-1930 (Stanford, 1997).