Anomala arier? Västerländska rasbiologer och Ainufolket som en förlorad vit ras, 1868-1941

Tidsperiod: 2020-12-01 till 2022-12-31

Projektledare: John Hennessey

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Projektbidrag

Budget: 3 051 000 SEK

At the height of Western imperialism, scientific racism was integral to the execution and justification of the colonial project around the globe. For many Europeans and Americans, military superiority seemed to imply “white” racial superiority and the right to lands belonging to “weaker races,” but how did contemporaries respond to an anomalous case in which an ostensibly “white race” fell victim to colonialism? From the 1870s Western scientists became increasingly interested in the Ainu, a Northeast Asian indigenous people that challenged many of their assumptions about race and “civilization.” The Ainu appeared to them to be “Aryan” or “white,” but were also viewed as a “primitive,” “dying race” who were being pushed towards extinction by the aggressive colonial expansion of the “non-white” Japanese. The role of the Ainu in the production of a Japanese racial national identity has been researched in depth, but the possible impact on Western understandings of race remains unstudied. How did the Ainu affect Western notions of “whiteness” and racial superiority?Employing perspectives from the philosophy of science and discourse theory, this project will chart Western racialized scientific debates about the Ainu in order to better understand how racial categories were produced and legitimized within scientific discourse during the period 1868-1941. This project is especially timely given the Japanese government’s recent controversial revision of Japan’s Ainu legislation.