Stefan Bargheer

Junior Thyssen Fellow
Period of Stay: 
October 2018 – June 2019
University of California Los Angeles, CA USA
Project Title: 
Culturalism: The Remaking of Race in the American Century
Project Abstract: 

The project looks at the production of scientific knowledge on the relation between race and culture in the twentieth century. I analyze how during World War II and the emerging cold war era the concept of culture used in the social sciences took over many of the core characteristics previously assigned to race. Scholars working throughout this period stressed the homogeneity of cultures, their boundedness in space, and stability over time, three characteristics previously associated with a typological or essentialist concept of race that is now considered unscientific and marked as racist. I show that while European countries used an essentialist notion of race in order to classify people and build hierarchies during the era of empire, the United States as the dominant nation in the postwar world promoted essentialist notions of culture to do the very same.