Staffan Müller-Wille: "Diagrams in the history of race and genetics"

  • Datum: –15.00
  • Plats: Engelska parken 6-3025 (Rausingrummet)
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för idéhistoria
  • Kontaktperson: Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

Vetenskapshistoriska seminariet

Forskningspresentation av Staffan Müller-Wille, Cambridge University. 


 “All deductive reasoning,” according to Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), involves “constructing an icon or diagram … experimenting upon this image in the imagination, and of observing the result so as to discover unnoticed and hidden relations.” This primacy of mental images, I will argue, also holds true for the long history of racial anthropology and genetics. Visualizations of global human diversity, from their very beginning in the early modern period, were not only representations, but also catalysts for the quantification, statistical treatment and mathematical modelling of the inheritance of human difference. I will illustrate this argument with reference to diagrams that helped conceptualize race mixture in terms of “blood proportions”, and that ultimately informed the Punnett square, an essential tool developed in the early history of classical genetics.