Italians and the invention of race (Lucia Re)


I liked this article very much (it seems like most of us did). The part on race studies  was the most interesting for me. A number of scientists helped shape the way race was represented. Lombroso’s “L’uomo bianco e l’uomo di colore was probably one of the most influential and gave a pseudo-scientific explanation for the superiority of whites. I found this link which is really interesting.  As I glanced through the pages I read a part in which he states that even the blood of blacks is different. He says that it coagulated immediately when drawn. Anthropologists today know that race is a social construct and that it’s impossible to determine a person’s “race” by blood or tissue samples.

I find it paradoxical that northern Europeans viewed Italians with the same prejudice that they used towards the Africans.  Sibilla Aleramo reference to Ferrero’s book in her novel Una donna surprised me.  In Prof. McMenamin’s class we read chapters of this book.  If the southern man who raped her was a different race (quasi orientale – keeping women secluded harem-style) it was her northern father who forced her to marry him. She was very attached to her father and her education was rather liberal for the day, as a matter of fact she was the first Italian woman to leave her husband and her son.

An excellent article that I will save and do research on many of the people she mentioned!

Link to digital copy of Lombroso’s book:


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