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Races and Peoples: Lectures on the Science of Ethnography

Nature volume 44, page 124 | Download Citation



THE lectures of which this book consists were delivered at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, early in 1890. They present a good general view of the leading principles of ethnography, as these are understood by the author. He begins with a discussion of what he calls the physical and psychical elements of ethnography, next treats of the beginnings and subdivisions of races, then takes in order the divisions in which he arranges the various groups of mankind, and finally deals with problems relating to “acclimation,” amalgamation, and the influence of civilization on savages, and offers some suggestions as to the destiny of races. The human species seems to him to include five races—the Eurafrican, the Austafrican, the Asian, the American, and insular and littoral peoples. Each of these is subdivided into branches, stocks, and groups; and an effort is made to define the traits which, according to Dr. Brinton, the members of each race have in common. It is not always easy to understand the principle of his classification. The Eurafrican race, for instance, includes the following groups: Libyans, Egyptians, East Africans, Arabians, Abyssinians, Chaldæans, Euskarians, Indo-Germanic or Celtindic peoples, and peoples of the Caucasus. These peoples are all white; and Dr. Brinton thinks we may also say of them, “hair wavy, nose narrow.” But the differences by which they are separated from one another are, at least in some cases, so profound, that it is extremely doubtful whether we are warranted in attributing to them a common origin, except in the wide sense in which a common origin is attributed to humanity gnerally. So long, however, as Dr. Brinton's classification is understood to be merely a convenient way of bringing together great masses of facts, it may be of considerable service to students. The book embodies the results of much careful research, and is written in a clear and vigorous style.

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