PubMed | German Historical Institute London
Type: Historical Article | Journal: Isis; an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences | Year: 2010
This essay examines a dispute between the French and German anthropological communities in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. While the debate ostensibly revolved around the ethnological classification of the Prussian population presented in Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefagess La race prussienne, this overlays much deeper points of contention, presenting a case study of how commitments to nationalism and internationalism in late nineteenth-century science were not mutually exclusive but could operate in a highly synergistic manner, even during periods of intense international crisis. In the controversy, a group of scholars attempted to reconcile national rivalries with a commitment to scientific universalism and define how anthropological ideas of race and progress related to political developments. The French and German communities retained similar views that anthropology was an international science and that politically defined nationality was separate from scientifically discerned race. Yet they nevertheless regarded their work as strongly affected by processes of national consolidation and employed the language of scientific universalism to accuse their rivals of misusing science for political purposes.