Since the second half of the eighteenth century, generations of scientists persisted in studying the relationships between the volume, weight or shape of the human brain and the degree of ‘intelligence’. In Pogliano’s book, the thread of time drives the narrative up to the mid-twentieth century. It investigates the duration and changes of a game that was intrinsically political, although having to do with bones and nervous matter. Races made its main object, during a long period when Western culture believed the human species to be naturally partitioned into a number of discrete types, with their innate and hereditary traits. Never leading to irrefutable achievements, the polycentric (as well as visual) enterprise herein described is full of growing tensions, doubts, and disillusionment.
Claudio Pogliano is Professor of History of science at the University of Pisa. He has published numerous monographs and articles, especially in his main area of interest: the modern and contemporary history of biomedical and anthropological sciences, with a particular regard to their visual aspects.
List of Illustrations
Introduction 1 Eighteenth-century Onset 1 Darker Skin and Brain 2 Qualitative and Quantitative Differences 3 Speculations and Objections 2 Rising Tide 1 The “Phrenological Wedge” 2 Shrunken Brains 3 Materialism and the Recapitulation Theory 4 Weighing Empty, Filled Spaces 5 The Will to Differentiate 6 Early Doubts 3 Climax 1 Uncertain Certainty: Paris on Stage 2 An Intense Decade 3 An Urgent Desideratum for Science 4 Antinomies and Paradoxes 5 Orphans of Broca 6 “A Literature By Itself” 4 Twentieth-century Epilogue 1 Resilience Despite Everything 2 Further Views in Conflict 3 Innovating Techniques, Popular Science, and Deconstructing Myths
Summary Bibliography Index of Names
Readers who are interested in the singular connection – which Western culture established over the course of two centuries – between the history of brain research and that of racial theories.