“The Promise of a Fine Skull”

in The Skull Collectors

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780226233482
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226233499 | DOI:
“The Promise of a Fine Skull”

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This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about the skull collection of naturalist Samuel George Morton. It suggests that Morton's work on skulls secured his place in the annals of what historians have called “scientific racism” because he explored the differences among men through their skulls with the detached neutrality we associate with scientific inquiry. Thus, his collection appeared to be a residue of colonialism and conquest, the by-product of an outmoded science. The chapter also explores the tensions between skulls as measures of racial difference and as markers of common humanity.

Keywords: Samuel George Morton; skull collection; scientific racism; scientific inquiry; colonialism; skulls; markers of humanity

Chapter.  14228 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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