First Advisor

Natan Meir

Date of Publication

Summer 7-23-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Judaism and science, Jews in literature, French Jews -- History -- 19th century, French Jews -- History -- 20th century, Jews -- France -- History -- 19th century, Jews -- France -- History -- 20th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 70 pages)


Race science is built on ideas of division and categorization. In the historian's quest to tell the story of race science, certain frameworks have been used that can greatly inhibit our understanding of this fraught topic. The impulse to study race science in the framework of the nation-state has led to certain misconceptions and lends itself to a historical narrative wherein racist concepts stop at artificially imposed borders. In addition, the national framework detracts from the individual's contributions and instead lumps these contributions together on the level of the nation-state, thus opening the door for judgments about whole nations being more or less responsible for race science.

In this work, I explore contributions to race science pertaining to the "Jewish race" (which I have simplified to the phrase "Jewish race science") made by individual French writers and scholars. These contributions have been overlooked at times by historians who look to more notorious examples, such as those made by German race science theorists; in failing comprehensively to examine all significant contributions to race science, historians have often inhibited their own ability to understand Jewish race science fully. If such a historical field is to be understood, one must be aware of the full range of development of Jewish race science, both in terms of geographical scope and scholarly focus. By bringing attention to Jewish race science contributions made in nineteenth-century France, it is my intention to broaden the understanding of this field and to help bring about a new approach to the field that is less reliant on the nationalist framework in its evaluation of the nature and impact of race science.


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