The Perils of Race-Thinking
A Portrait of Aleš Hrdlička
Eugenics and scientific racism are experiencing a resurgence, and only by understanding the work of Aleš Hrdlička and others will we be able to combat them. In our age of rapid advances of genetic studies within historical research the racial science of the early twentieth century is treated with contempt. This book is about an arch figure of that period: Aleš Hrdlička served as Curator of Physical Anthropology at the prestigious Smithsonian Institution from 1910 to 1941. Although his output is today considered pseudoscience, he adhered to the standards of his profession of his age.
During World War I, Hrdlička collaborated with propagandists to convince the American public to support the Czechoslovak cause. In 1938, he pleaded publicly against the German annexation of the Sudeten region. Although a prolific author, he refused to change his difficult name, which signaled his ardent commitment to Czech identity.
In his view, Germans and Czechs were locked in a millennial struggle that was racial, and the Slavs were a eugenic bastion against the "rising tide of color." On the global stage, Hrdlička publicized Soviet Union as the citadel of Slavic whiteness. By placing Czech nationalism at the center of the Czech-American scholar's mental map, this book contributes to the research on the development of Western racial thinking.
About the Authors
|Central European University Press|
|CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine|