Abstract: This work examines the notion of race, a prominent idea in Western thinking. But, the author argues, race is not a universal idea, not even in the West. It is an idea with a definite pedigree, and Hannaford traces that confused pedigree from Hesiod to the Holocaust and beyond. Hannaford begins by examining the ideas of race supposedly held in the ancient world, contrasting them with the complex social, philosophical, political and scientific ideas actually held at the time. Through the medieval, Renaissance and early modern periods he critically examines precursors in history, science and philosophy. Hannaford distinguishes those cultures' ideas of social inclusion, rank and role from modern ones based on race. But he also finds the first traces of the modern ideas of race in the protosciences of late medieval cabalism and hermeticism. Following that trail forward, he describes the establishment of the modern scientific and philosophical notions of race in the 19th and 20th centuries and shows how those notions became popular and pervasive, even among those who claim to be non-racist. At the same time, Hannaford sets out an alternative to a race-based notion of humanity. In his examination of ancient Greece, he finds in what was then a dazzling new idea, politics, a theory of how to bring a purposeful oneness to a society composed of diverse families, tribes and interests. This idea of politics has a history, too, and its presence has waxed and waned through the ages.
Title and contributions: Race : the history of an idea in the West / Ivan Hannaford; foreword by Bernard Crick.
Publication: Washington, D.C. Baltimore ; London : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; John Hopkins University Press 1996
Physical description: xviii, 448 p. ; 26 cm.
ISBN: 0801852234 (paper : alk. paper)
Language: eng (language of the text, soundtrack, etc..)
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