Chapter

Measuring Skulls: The Social Role of the Antihumanist

in Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226983417
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983462 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226983462.003.0005
Measuring Skulls: The Social Role of the Antihumanist

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Skulls were paradigmatic objects for German anthropologists both because they were perfect examples of the kind of data that they sought in all their studies and because their study required precise standardization. In reaching agreements about apparently mundane issues such as how to measure and how to draw a picture of a skull, anthropologists achieved consensus both about major theoretical issues and about their own social and epistemological identity. When anthropologists signed the Frankfurt Agreement, they obliged themselves to avoid the Darwinian questions of racial hierarchy associated with Schaaffhausen's interest in prognathism. Furthermore, by choosing a horizontal line that was easy to determine on both living humans and bare skulls, they enabled individuals of varying expertise to have access to a wide range of anthropological materials to participate in their project.

Keywords: skull; racial hierarchy; social identity; German anthropologists; anthropological materials; antihumanists

Chapter.  6768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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