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A Whiter Shade of Pale: Visuality and race in the work of the Swedish State Institute for Race Biology
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of ALM.
2013 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of History, ISSN 0346-8755, Vol. 38, no 2, 180-201 p.Article in journal, Editorial material (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In 1922 the Swedish State Institute for Race Biology (SIRB) was founded in Uppsala, with the purpose being to survey and classify the Swedish people according to their race. To make this categorization, both measurements and visual analysis of bodies and faces were used and documented in charts and photographs. The data collected was then intended to make a foundation for a rational population policy aiming at improving the Nordic (Swedish) race. The charts registering body characteristics, the photographic collection brought together by the institute, and the images illustrating the published results all testify to the importance of visuality in this eugenic project: how people looked was crucial when classifying them into different race types. In this study the works of the institute are analysed to see in what way race was constructed through this visuality. The results show how the institute followed a scientific and pictorial rhetoric founded centuries earlier, in which the human species was organized in different subgroups according to their visual appearance. The results also show how race, with time, became more and more differentiated and that white, in the work of the SIRB, came in many shades.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2013. Vol. 38, no 2, 180-201 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-198487DOI: 10.1080/03468755.2013.769458ISI: 000318150000003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-198487DiVA: diva2:616261
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2013-04-15 Created: 2013-04-15 Last updated: 2013-06-10Bibliographically approved

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