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Castes and Trees: Tracing the Link Between European and Mexican Representations of Human Taxonomy

Torrens, Erica and Barahona, Ana (2018) Castes and Trees: Tracing the Link Between European and Mexican Representations of Human Taxonomy. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology, 11 (019). ISSN 2475-3025

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Abstract

The authors of this manuscript are interested mainly in meta-scientific studies, particularly in historical reflection on biology. Species in the Age of Discordance being the main theme of this special issue, and taking inspiration from the idea that “biological lineages move through time, space and each other”, we find it thought-provoking to show that just as biological lineages have histories, diverse conceptual categories have also been historically constituted. Moreover their visual representations have been discordant at different levels, such as the concepts of species and race. This article presents how the struggle to achieve a human taxonomy in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe had a fundamental visual component that reflects the discussions and theories that led to important discordances in the racial classification of Homo sapiens and in other species of hominins. Using as main visual artifacts the representation of evolutionary trees, the painting of castes, as well as the natural classification tree of the Mexican naturalist Manuel Ortega from 1877, the authors will show on the one hand how European ideas about human species and race in the scientific mainstream were deployed in the very distinctive situations of Mexico. On the other hand, it will be shown that visual culture was fundamental and decisive in establishing and disseminating scientific accounts of species and race, and how both concepts have interacted in the visual characterization of human diversity, both to define it and to restrain it.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Torrens, Ericatorrens@ciencias.unam.mx
Barahona, Ana
Additional Information: ISSN: 1949-0739 (print)
Keywords: Discordance; Evolutionary Trees; Race; Species; Visual Culture
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Society
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 15:49
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2020 14:20
Item ID: 17657
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology
Official URL: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ptpbio/16039257.0011....
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.3998/ptpbio.16039257.0011.019
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Society
Date: 6 September 2018
Volume: 11
Number: 019
ISSN: 2475-3025
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17657

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