Technology and the Logic of American Racism: A Cultural by Sarah E. Chinn

By Sarah E. Chinn

During this publication, Sarah E. Chinn pulls jointly what seems contrary discourses--the information-driven languages of legislations and medication and the subjective logics of racism--to study how racial identification has been built within the usa during the last century. She examines quite a number basic social case reviews comparable to the yankee crimson move' lamentable determination to segregate the blood of black and white donors in the course of global warfare II, and its ramifications for American tradition, and newer examples that show the racist nature of criminology, resembling the hot trial of O.J. Simpson. between numerous key American literary texts, she appears at Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, a singular whose plot activates problems with racial identification and which was once written at a time while clinical and well known curiosity in facts of the physique, reminiscent of fingerprinting, was once at a height.

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Additional info for Technology and the Logic of American Racism: A Cultural History of the Body as Evidence (Critical Research In Material Culture)

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This work led quickly to his founding of the Anthropometric Laboratory in 1884 that was open to the public as part of the International Health Exhibition. The Laboratory served a double purpose: as entertainment for the Exhibition punters, who lined up in their thousands to have their height, weight, arm span, head circumference and other measurements taken for the cost of a threepenny ticket, and as a source for raw data (and seed money) for Galton in the pursuit of his eugenics work (Kevles, 1985: 14).

Although Wilson was trained as a lawyer, an unfortunate comment he made on his arrival to Dawson's Landing over twenty years earlier has left him largely unemployed:1 he has "never had a case, and [has] had to earn a poor living as an expert accountant" (PW 132). To fill his empty hours, Wilson took up hobbies: palmistry, and one that had no name "which dealt with people's fingermarks," in which he collected impressions of people's fingerprints on strips of glass (PW 29). Although the twins and Tom oblige Wilson by giving him their fingerprints, they are far more interested in his skills in palm-reading.

I would add to this, though, that such discourses are also called into action by a political agenda that needs to sweeten the exercise of raw power that is a little too acrid for the tastes of the professional and managerial classes. The emergence of scientific, legal, or commercial technologies of evidence often accompanied historical moments of brutal violence and political suppression. The proofs of difference that evidentiary technologies promulgated went some of the way towards rationalizing and normalizing inequity by quantifying it as natural superiority and inferiority.

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