This lesson will explore the emergence of what 19th century Europeans considered to be a “scientific” understanding of race and racial hierarchy. Despite claims of objectivity, this “science” was informed primarily by the cultural assumptions produced through the experience of European imperial projects in the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. BBC Four’s “Episode 2: Fatal Impacts” uncovers the crimes of colonial expansion in Oceania, Africa, and Asia, and the ways in the idea of race underscored colonial decision-making. It also charts the legacies of Social Darwinism on the domestic and imperial policies of Britain, the United States, and Germany.
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