12

ON CREEPING JENSENISM

C. Loring Brace

Frank B. Livingstone

Concern about the meaning of the physical differences between human populations dates back to before the dawn of written history, but it did not really become a major issue until the Renaissance, when the revolution in ocean-going transportation brought large numbers of diverse people physically face to face. The superior technology of the Europeans enabled them to coerce and exploit the peoples encountered, many of whom were forcibly uprooted and relocated as slaves. While one could argue that this was one of the most extraordinary examples of barbarism in the annals of "civilization," it was justified at the time, not so much on the basis of race, but because the people being enslaved were "heathens." Actually the "Christianity" of the unprincipled and largely illiterate slaving crews was often a convenient fiction, and the real reasons why the slave trade continued were greed and the force of firearms.

The phenomenon of the Christianized (and even literate) slave removed the initial rationale, but, needless to say, the institution persisted. Economics and the established social order in the

____________________
From Race and Intelligence, edited by C. L. Brace, G. R. Gamble, and J. T. Bond, 1971, pp. 64-75. Reprinted by permission of the American Anthropological Association.

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