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Nationality and Race from an Anthropologist's Point of View Being the Robert Boyle lecture delivered before the Oxford university junior scientific club on November 17, 1919   By: (1866-1955)

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Nationality and Race

From an Anthropologist's Point of View

BEING THE

ROBERT BOYLE LECTURE

DELIVERED BEFORE THE

OXFORD UNIVERSITY JUNIOR SCIENTIFIC CLUB

On November 17, 1919

BY

ARTHUR KEITH, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S.

HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK TORONTO MELBOURNE CAPE TOWN BOMBAY 1919

PRINTED IN ENGLAND AT THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

NATIONALITY AND RACE

FROM AN ANTHROPOLOGIST'S POINT OF VIEW

NATIONALITY AND RACE IN BOYLE'S TIME

It was during the lifetime of Robert Boyle that our forefathers began to come into close contact with the races and nationalities of the outer world. When he was born in County Cork in the year 1627, small and isolated bands of Englishmen were elbowing Red Indians from the eastern sea board of North America; before his death in London in 1691, at the age of sixty four, he had seen these pioneer bands become united into a British fringe stretching almost without a break from Newfoundland to Florida. Neither he nor any one else in England could then have guessed that in less than two centuries the narrow fringe of colonists would have spread from shore to shore, thus carpeting a continent with a new people. It was in his time, too, that English merchants and sailors made a closer acquaintance with the peoples of India, of the Far East, and with the sea board natives of Africa and of South America. We have only to turn to the six splendid volumes in which his experiments, observations, and writings are preserved to see how he viewed the world which his countrymen were opening up beneath his eyes. In a short paper, drafted some time before his death, he gives the most minute directions to guide navigators in drawing up reports of newly discovered lands. His directions relate to every conceivable property or aspect of a new country its geography, mineral wealth, natural products, climate all but its inhabitants. Like many Englishmen of his time, Boyle conceived that his duty by native peoples began and ended when he had seen that they were supplied with copies of the Bible. For him, and for most of his contemporaries, there seem to have been no racial problems; for they did not regard the meeting and mingling of diverse races or of peoples of different nationalities as matters which deserved investigation and explanation. Boyle witnessed the acutest phases of the 'plantation' of Ireland, but the inquiries he set on foot regarding that country were: 'How it cometh to pass that there are not frogs, toads, snakes, moles, nightingales, rarely magpies' within its borders; he inquired, too, concerning the true nature of 'diverse things which the Irish foolishly report of St. Patrick' especially concerning the 'birds turned into stones for chirping when St. Patrick was preaching'. There were, of course, racial and national problems in Boyle's time, but they had not then presented themselves before the tribunal of the public mind as matters demanding investigation and treatment.

RACE AND NATIONALITY IN RECENT YEARS

We need not blame the statesmen and writers of Boyle's time for failing to recognize the inward significance of national and racial manifestations any more than we condemn his contemporary physicians for failing to separate from the mass of disease such conditions as are known to modern medical men as appendicitis and typhoid fever. Typhoid fever and appendicitis existed in Boyle's time just as did national disturbances and racial antipathies, but their nature and significance passed undiagnosed. It was not until England had laid siege, by means of armies of colonists, to lands inhabited by native races, or had come to guide the destinies of great tropical empires by handfuls of civil servants, that she realized that racial contact gives rise to live and burning antagonisms. Nor are national problems new to England; they have always dogged the footsteps of her statesmen. In Boyle's time a people could make its national spirit heard and felt only by resorting to brute force... Continue reading book >>




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