Since the eighteenth century when natural historians created the idea of distinct racial categories, scientific findings on race have been a double-edged sword. For some antiracists, science holds the promise of one day providing indisputable evidence to help eradicate racism. On the other hand, science has been enlisted to promote racist beliefs ranging from a justification of slavery in the eighteenth century to the infamous twentieth-century book, The Bell Curve, whose authors argued that racial differences in intelligence resulted in lower test scores for African Americans.
This well-organized, readable textbook takes the reader through a chronological account of how and why racial categories were created and how the study of “race” evolved in multiple academic disciplines, including genetics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. In a bibliographic essay at the conclusion of each of the book’s seven sections, the authors recommend primary texts that will further the reader’s understanding of each topic. Heavily illustrated and enlivened with sidebar biographies, this text is ideal for classroom use.