The historical problematization of "mixed race" in psychological

and human-scientific discourses


Thomas Teo

York University



Originally published as: Teo, T. (2004). The historical problematization of "mixed race" in psychological and human-scientific discourses. In A. Winston (Ed.). Defining difference: Race and racism in the history of psychology (pp. 79-108). Washington, DC: APA.


This web-based version is based on the final pre-publication manuscript that is not identical with the published version. For access to published version please contact your library or contact author.


Address: Thomas Teo, Department of Psychology, History and Theory of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to


This research has been supported by a Standard Research Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Address: Thomas Teo, Department of Psychology, History and Theory of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada. Electronic mail may be sent to



When Hitler (1927/1999) reflected on his political struggle, he explored three topics regarding race mixture[1]: race mixture was against nature; it meant the end of culture; and it lowered the level of the higher race. Hitler's technique of problematization regarding why race mixture was against nature was crude. He employed the concept of a species when talking about races, a common practice in 19th century discourses. Accordingly, race mixture was against nature because "the titmouse seeks the titmouse, the finch the finch, the stork the stork, the field mouse the field mouse, the dormouse the dormouse, the wolf the she-wolf" (p. 284). Similarly, his readers were supposed to believe that human races did not seek each other. Neither groups nor individuals but nature became the subject of history, and nature did not desire the blending of a higher with a lower race. In fact, nature had "little love for bastards" (p. 400).


Race mixture meant that the entire evolutionary progress was "ruined with one blow" (p. 286). Yet, even if nature might not desire the blending of human races, history showed that individuals did. If that were the case then one should realize, according to Hitler, that racial crossing meant the end of culture because "all great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning" (p. 289). The reason was that the conquerors transgressed "against the principle of blood purity" (p. 292) and began "to mix with the subjugated inhabitants" (p. 292). The Aryan "became submerged in the racial mixture, and gradually, more and more, lost his cultural capacity" (p. 296). According to this type of problematization blood mixture was "the sole cause of the dying out of old cultures" (p. 296).


Inevitably, racial crossing led to regression and a lowering of the higher race. According to Hitler, the mixed race offspring might stand higher than the racially lower parent, but certainly not as high as the superior one. Crossing produced "a medium between the level of two parents" (p. 285). Yet, the "stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker" (p. 285). Besides the lowering of the higher race, crossing led to physical and mental regression and sickness (see p. 286). Hitler even included existential-psychological arguments of problematization, because "the lost purity of blood alone destroys inner happiness forever, plunges man into the abyss for all time" (p. 327). And he invoked a superior being as racial crossing was a "sin against the will of the eternal creator" (p. 286).

Hitler was specifically concerned with the "Rhineland bastards" (see p. 325) who were the result of the deployment of black soldiers in the Rhineland after WWI. Based on the notion of a "national disgrace" politicians and opinion makers demanded the sterilization or even elimination of their bastard children. Accordingly, these biracial children were the result of rape or prostitution and thus no moral obligation towards this offspring, impure in a dual sense, was perceived (see Oguntoye, Opitz, & Schultz, 1992). For Hitler (1927/1999), these children were the result of a Jewish conspiracy against the white race (p. 325) as the Jews brought "the Negroes into the Rhineland" (p. 325) (for an analysis of race in the third Reich see Burleigh & Wippermann, 1991; Weindling, 1989).


Hitler neither invented the blood theory of inheritance (see Corcos, 1997) nor the discourse on hybridity.[2] He could rely on an ongoing reflection in the human sciences about the problems of racial crossing. Philosophers, anthropologists, biologists, sociologists, historians, and psychologists participated and promoted a discourse in which race crossing was construed as an unnatural process leading to a decline in culture, intellect, and personality. Empirical psychologists considered it legitimate, appropriate, and worthwhile to test various hypotheses in the field of hybridity without considering the political, social, and epistemological background of this issue. In doing so psychologists contributed to making hybridity a problem -- from Strong (1913) and Ferguson (1916) to Scarr and Weinberg (1976).


This chapter focuses on the problematization[3] of hybridity in psychological characteristics studying human sciences. Analyses of problematization may reconstruct when, why, and how a particular problematization took place (see also Foucault, 1997, pp. 111-119), but the focus of this chapter will be on the "how," i. e., the techniques of problematization. It is a selective history of the problematization of hybridity and it will not answer exactly when hybridity became a problem in the course of Western history, nor how the discourses on hybridity as a biological, psychological, cultural, and political problem shifted over time. Instead I am more interested in the rhetorical and non-rhetorical techniques that were construed, used, and repeated in order to make hybridity a problem. I hope to provide some understanding by tracing a few of these rhetorical techniques from the Enlightenment to the present.


The multifaceted discourses on hybridity


Before discussing techniques of problematization regarding hybridity in the context of the human sciences and psychology I would like to present a sample of the variety of discourses and the many terms that connote a process or the result of a process in which two persons or groups come together. Many of the terms have sexual connotations: Adulteration, bastardization, interbreeding, intermixing, intermarriage, interpenetration, miscegenation, mongrelization, race-amalgamation, race fusion, race mixture, race-crossing, racial intermingling, and so on. Terms to refer to the offspring of racial intermingling include bastard, cross, Eurasian, half-blood, half-breed, half-caste, hybrid, metis, mixed blood, mongrel, mulatto, and so on. In fact this terminology is not exhaustive in any way. Human scientists and politicians developed various subclasses, for example, with regard to Black-White mixture, researchers used the notion of quadroon (three parts white), octoroon (seven parts white), and sambo (three parts black) (see Ferguson, 1916). For the Spanish-American population more than 20 crosses received names, for example, chino-oscura (Indian father and mulatto mother), mestizo-claro (Indian father and mestiza mother), chino-cola (Indian father and chino mother), and zambo-claro (Indian father and zamba mother) (see Young, 1995, p. 176).


The denotations and connotations refer to a blood theory of inheritance as Corcos (1997) has highlighted. Even contemporary individuals use this terminology and consider, for example, that a "mulatto" has 50% black and 50% white blood. Moreover, it is assumed that 100% white or 100% black blood is pure, whereas 50% white blood is impure. But of course this terminology does not refer to any contemporary scientific theory of inheritance and does not have any scientific meaning. Yet, the metaphysics of blood is still invoked to convey the positive connotation of purity. For example, Rushton (1999) employs the notion of pure without quotation marks: "Mixed-Race Blacks have about 25% White ancestry. Their IQs fall half way between pure Blacks (70) and pure Whites (100)" (p. 50). Corcos (1997) reminds of the devastating effects of the blood theory of inheritance during WWII when the American Red Cross segregated blood given by blacks "because it was feared that through blood transfusions characteristics such as skin color from 'Negroes' would be transferred to 'non-negroes'"(p. 39).


Hybridity was part of the legal discourse. Already in Louis XIV's Code Noir of 1685 on slavery (in Long, 1774, pp. 921-934) it was suggested that masters who had children with their slaves "shall be condemned ... in a fine of two thousand pounds weight of sugar" (p. 924). The code was "liberal"[4] in the sense that if an unmarried man married his slave, then the slave and the children were considered free and legitimate. The fate of mulattos also became a topic of the French Revolution. Reformers discussed the status of free mulattos, for example, in the colony of St. Dominque. In 1791 the French National Assembly gave suffrage to mulattos born of free fathers and mothers and made them eligible to participate in colonial assemblies (see Lokke, 1939). Other prominent countries that were specifically concerned with legal issues regarding hybridity are Brazil, Canada (Metis), Jamaica, India, China (Shanghai), South-Africa, and the United States, to mention a few.


Legal debates in the United States began in the 1600s. In 1661, Maryland enacted laws concerning free women, mostly servants, marrying slaves (see Woodson, 1918). These women were forced to serve the master of the slave during the life of the husband. These laws were changed after it became evident that planters forced female servants to marry slaves in order to take advantage of these servants and to use their offspring as slaves. In 1662 Virginia imposed fines for "fornication with a Negro" (p. 342). North Carolina provided in 1715 two years extra work and a fine for a white servant woman having a child with "a Negro, mulatto or Indian" (p. 345). Massachusetts enacted in 1705 a law that stated that an African having sexual relations with an English woman should be sold out of province. Pennsylvania suggested in 1677 that race mixture should be prohibited. In the 19th century widespread "miscegenation" and a shift in discourse made it a capital offense for a black man to cohabit with a white woman in several US states.


It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact historical genesis of the problematization of hybridity. Proponents of scientific racism even find in the Bible a "Scriptural abhorrence of racial mixture" (see Dover, 1937, p. 78). Hannaford (1996) points out that in the 13th century Jews were forced to wear a dress different from Christians in order to prevent intermarriage. However, these measures were not based on a concept of "race" but on religious conviction. The Prince of South Spain Abu-Yussuff Almansur suggested that he would not oppose intermarriage of genuine converts to Islam (p. 115). Hannaford argues that Jewish rabbis in the 14th century imposed harsh laws on their communities: "The law said that any Jew found consorting with a Christian woman would be burned alive" (p. 119). A Jewish woman mixing with a Christian man could suffer facial mutilation. These concerns, however, it seems were not nourished by a racial but by a religious agenda (see also Geiss, 1988).


It has been argued that pre-modern society had no real concept of racial differentiation (see Goldberg, 1993; Malik, 1996). There was a lack of discourse on the fact that peoples of Northern Africa mixed with blacks. Woodson (1918) pointed out that there had been an "infusion of African blood" (p. 336) in ancient Greek and Italian civilizations, in Portugal, and even in western France and parts of Britain which did not lead to a discourse on hybridity. The discourse on hybridity flared up in the context of European conquest and slavery and many academics have linked it to the projects of Enlightenment and modernity. Goldberg (1993) emphasizes that modernity became obsessed with the issue of race and shows how anthropology and biology in the Enlightenment began to classify racial groupings according to physical and cultural indicators. Malik (1996) on the other hand vindicates modernity and blames romanticism for the "initial backlash against the egalitarian and universalistic assumptions" (p. 73) of the Enlightenment philosophers whose aims he sees betrayed.[5]


It is not task of this chapter to shed light on the role of the Enlightenment in the context of race and racism. However, evident is that important figures of the Enlightenment movement raised bybridity as an issue. For example, Voltaire (1694-1778) covered mixture as a topic in 18th century literary reflection. His novel's hero Candide (Voltaire, 1759/1999) killed two monkeys who had followed two women and he was astonished that the women were distressed about their loss. His servant Cacambo enlightened him that these monkeys were the women's lovers. Candide himself realized that the results of this mixture were centaurs, fauns, and satyrs. Cacambo also explained to Candide that a monkey was a quarter human, as he was a quarter of a Spaniard (see Chapter XVI).


The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) fought in his lectures against the intermarriage of nations which "gradually extinguishes the characters, and is, despite any pretended philanthropy, not beneficial to mankind" (Kant, 1977, WA XII, p. 671)[6]. It is significant to mention that Kant who did not conduct any research on hybridity had already a view on that issue, namely that mixture was a problem. Kant suggested that intermarriage was not beneficial, but he provided no concrete evidence for the extinction of national character. It seems that it was already an article of self-evidence in European academia that required no further explanation. At the same time Kant signified a general technique in the problematization of hybridity in the human sciences: Merely stating that hybridity was a problem made it a problem -- particularly when it was based on the authority of a great philosopher (see also Mills, 1997).


Kant may not have had bad intentions when he wrote and expressed his views. Josiah Royce (1855c1916), the American philosopher and ethicist, had also good intentions when he suggested promoting a positive racial identity of minorities. He posed the hypothetical question: "If race-amalgamation is indeed to be viewed as always an evil, the best way to counteract the growth of that evil must everywhere be the cultivation of racial self-respect and not of racial degradation" (Royce, 1906, pp. 273-274). Royce wrongly believed that the cause of hybridity was based on the need of the colored populations to "raise" the color of their children and, thus, that training self-respect would end race mixture. But Royce's "enlightened" discourse based good ideas on a premise that was not challenged. By not challenging it he continued the problematization of hybridity.


The historian Long (1774) rejected the idea that Jamaica should be owned or inhabited by mulattos. He hoped that white men "would abate of their infatuated attachments to black women" (p. 327) and he warned: "Let any man turn his eyes to the Spanish American dominions, and behold what a vicious, brutal, and degenerate breed of mongrels has been there produced, between Spaniards, Blacks, Indians, and their mixed progeny" (p. 327). He characterized the conjunctions of white and black as "two tinctures which nature has dissociated, like oil and vinegar" (p. 332).[7] Interestingly, on a political level, Long supported the idea of enfranchising mulatto children. He hoped that this would dampen the economic interests of planters in producing mulatto slaves. He also provided advice on how white women in Jamaica could make themselves more desirable, "more companionable, useful, and esteemable, as wives, than the Negresses and Mulattas are as mistresses" (p. 331).


Long also described the physical and psychological features of mulattos. He depicted them as "well-shaped, and the women well-featured. They seem to partake more of the white than the black" (p. 335). He suggested that mulatto girls reach puberty early but "from the time of their being about twenty-five, they decline very fast, till at length they grow horribly ugly" (p. 335). Moreover, according to Long, mulattos were lascivious, lively, sensible, clean, ridiculously vain, haughty, fond of finery, and, tender in their disposition, which "makes them excellent nurses to the sick" (p. 335). He also believed that mulattos had a reduced fertility, being of the "mule-kind"[8] (p. 335). For Long there were "extremely potent reasons for believing, that the White and Negroe are two distinct species" (p. 336).


For 19th century ideologists of scientific racism such as Count Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), who was influential in academia for understanding the whole of history in terms of the racial question, race mixture was the central concern. Gobineau prepared ideological elements that one would find again in Hitler's discourse on hybridity. Gobineau (1854/1966) suggested that "the human race in all its branches has a secret repulsion from the crossing of blood" (p. 29). Yet, history showed that hybridity occurred which meant in consequence that "the blood of the civilizing race is gradually drained away" (p. 33). The fall of cultures was not caused by any socio-cultural events but by degeneration. It meant that a race (or people) had no longer the same quality "because it has no longer the same blood in its veins, continual adulterations having gradually affected the quality of that blood" (p. 25).


History taught, according to Gobineau, that a civilization would die "when the primordial race-unit is so broken up and swamped by the influx of foreign elements" (p. 25). Gobineau used the historical example of the Persians and Romans whose history would supposedly have continued if they had kept to the purity of blood. Gobineau also raised the topic of infertility of hybrids, but because he had no evidence of infertility he relied on hearsay c another technique in the problematization of hybridity. Gobineau had learned "that in certain parts of Oceania the native women who have become mothers by Europeans are no longer fitted for impregnation by their own kind" (p. 116). His recommendation was straightforward: "Civilizations belonging to racially distinct groups should never be fused together" (p. 179).


It is difficult to understand comprehensively why race-mixture was one of the central problems for scientific racism. There were political, economic, military and psychological reasons. But I suggest that such explanations do not justice to the complexity of the problem. The symbolic meaning of hybridity suggests that mixed race was and is also significantly about sexuality and sex, and thus an understanding of hybridity as an emerging issue should be accompanied by an analysis of the sexual fascination with the "other." From a white male's perspective sexual relationships with female slaves or indigenous women were outside the accepted standards. This contact was objectionable because it was not sanctioned by Christian marriage. It was desirable because it promised pleasure and power outside the norms (see also Young, 1995).


At the same time it was unacceptable and outrageous when a "colored man" had sex or even sexual desires for a white woman. It even could mean a black man's death. This double standard was rationalized in scientific explanations of the 19th century. Dr. Serres suggested "scientifically" why a white man could have sex with a black woman but why a white woman should not have intimate relations with a black man. Impressed by the lengthy penis of the Ethiopian (African) race he suggested:


This dimension coincides with the length of the uterine canal in the Ethiopian female …. There results from this physical disposition, that the union of the Caucasian man with an Ethiopian woman is easy and without any inconveniences for the latter. The case is different in the union of the Ethiopian with a Caucasian woman, who suffers in the act, the neck of the uterus is pressed against the sacrum, so that the act of reproduction is not merely painful, but frequently non-productive. (Serres, as cited in Broca, 1864, p. 28).


This does not necessarily mean that one should turn to psychoanalytic interpretations. Some psychoanalysts participated in the construction of hybridity as a problem. Even post-war psychoanalysts focused, for example, on the psychopathology of mixed marriages. These marriages were understood in the psychoanalytic literature as an "exaggerated phobia of incest" (Lehrman, 1967, p. 68). Or, a mixed marriage might have been based on an intense Oedipus complex and partners outside one's ethnicity must have been chosen in "defiant hostility ... toward parents" (p. 78). Interestingly, the psychoanalyst Lehrman mentioned that patients reported mainly social pressure against their mixed marriages as their problem but he diminished these reports as his patients were "only peripherally aware of the contributions of neurotic drives to their choice of mate" (p. 78). In such a discourse the hybrid became a result of psychopathology.


Race crossing was covered in literature and as the subject of literary studies. Dover (1937) suggested that in literature the half-caste was presented "mostly as an undersized, scheming and entirely degenerate bastard. His father is a blackguard, his mother a whore. His sister and daughter … follow the maternal vocation" (p. 13). The story of the H.M.S. Bounty may be seen in this context. In 1789 the Bounty's mutineers under the command of Fletcher Christian left Tahiti (see Shapiro, 1953). Nine men headed by Christian, together with 12 Tahitian women, retreated to Pitcairn, 2500 miles southeast of Tahiti and in 1856 the children who were half-Polynesian and half-British, moved to Norfolk Island. The interest in this story and the successes of several films may be attributed to the anti-authoritarian character of the rebellion, loss of "civilization," and adventure into a new land, but also with the symbolic meaning of sexual relations between blackguards and bare-breasted supposedly uninhibited young native women. Of course, no clear conclusions about the role of hybridity in the development of this group could be derived, but Darwin (1871) and postwar academics referred to it as evidence on hybridity.


Anthropological and bio-psychological discourses


The biological discourse, which quite often included concerns regarding the effects of hybridity on human mental life, used very effective techniques of problematization. One of the most significant representatives in this context was Charles Davenport, Harvard-trained as a zoologist and a leading eugenicist (see Barkan, 1992). Davenport "knew" the negative consequences of race crossing before he did any empirical research. In 1917, long before his famous book on Race Crossing in Jamaica (Davenport & Steggerda, 1929), he presented a paper on The effects of race intermingling (Davenport, 1917). This paper is historically interesting as contemporary researchers sometimes forget that there was not only a focus on the "White, Black, and Yellow races" but also a focus on European race differences as Gould (1996) has pointed out in the context of immigration restriction.


Davenport (1917) was interested in the intermingling of Northern and Southern Europeans (see also Tucker in this book). He compared the Scotch who were described as "long-lived and whose internal organs are well adapted to care for the large frames" (p. 366) with the Southern Italian. The latter had "small short bodies" with "well adjusted viscera" (p. 366). Both groups of people did fine when left alone. But the hybrids in the second generation of those two groups might be expected to yield "children with large frames and inadequate viscera - children of whom it is said every inch over 5' 10" is an inch of danger; children of insufficient circulation" (p. 366). From a perspective of problematization it is important to emphasize the phrase "of whom it is said." It shows that Davenport based his theory on prejudice and hearsay accounts. Specifically, he mentioned dentists' reports who supposedly agree that "many cases of overcrowding or wide separation of teeth are due to a lack of harmony between size of jaw and size of teeth c probably due to a union of a large-jawed, large-toothed race and a small-jawed, small-toothed race" (p. 366). Davenport also discussed psychological consequences of hybridity. For the mulatto he identified "an ambition and push combined with intellectual inadequacy which makes the unhappy hybrid dissatisfied with his lot and a nuisance to others" (p. 367).


A significant technique of problematization, invoked by Davenport, was the application of "metaphysical" concepts such as disharmony by which he meant disharmony of physical, mental, and temperamental qualities and disharmony with the environment.[9] The lack of evidence was compensated by this technique and the general belief that "miscegenation commonly spells disharmony" (p. 367). Davenport also applied a scare technique of problematization by drawing people's attention to the negative health effects of hybridity. He wonders "how much of the exceptionally high death rate in middle life in this country is due to such bodily maladjustments" (p. 367). Because hybridization, according to Davenport, led to a decline in civilization, the solutions were clear: to stop intermixing and to apply eugenic measures and restrictions on immigration. The 1917 paper laid out Davenport's credo before any concrete empirical research was done, and empirical studies were executed in order to confirm the belief system - a very common strategy within scientific racism (see Gould, 1996).


In a 1928 article, Davenport (1928) summarized the results of extensive empirical studies on racial intermingling in Jamaica. He understood himself as the Caucasian spokesperson: "Especially we of the white race, proud of its achievement of the past, are eagerly questioning the consequences of mixing our blood" (p. 225). Human hybridity was made into a problem by looking at the problems of animal hybridity. In order to appear objective and neutral, Davenport reported both positive and negative effects of intermingling in the animal world. "Genetical experimentation" (p. 227), so Davenport, had shown several principles of race crossing. Hybrid vigor of the first generation in the offspring was such a principle.[10] The most popular example in this context was the infertile mule[11] which was "more vigorous than either of the parental species involved" (p. 227). On the other hand hybridity led to diminished efficiency of certain hybrids of dogs. But Davenport never clarified what the concepts of "vigor," "efficiency," and "disharmony" meant scientifically in the animal or human world.


Davenport and Steggerda (1929) compared Jamaican Blacks, Whites, and Browns (hybrids) on a variety of variables, from physical traits (nasal breadth, pelvic breadth, length of hair on arms, etc.) to physiological and psychological differences (tooth decay, rhythm, pitch discrimination, etc.). The psychological results showed with regard to intelligence (Army Alpha Test) that browns (hybrids) do better at ages 10 to 16 but as adults were "clearly inferior to either of the parental stocks" (Davenport, 1928, p. 236). This information was reinterpreted as a problem that fits with the ideology: "Apparently the browns mature earlier … but their development stops earlier" (p. 236). Findings that some browns do quite well were interpreted as a larger variability within the hybrids:


The browns, as a whole, have a superior capacity to the blacks, but there is a much larger proportion of them who through becoming rattled or through general muddleness are unable to make any score; while, on the other hand, a large number do brilliant work. (p. 236)


The reader was left with the question: Should one for the sake of these individuals who do brilliant work accept a population of hybrids? Davenport's answer was clearly "no" as this population would carry "an excessively large number of intellectually incompetent persons" (p, 238). This high variability, that included many incompetent persons, made hybrids as a group undesirable. Davenport himself interpreted the results again with the help of metaphysical concepts as the true outcome of hybridization was "the production of an excessive number of ineffective, because disharmoniously put together, people" (p. 237). Physical ineffectiveness meant for Davenport that "some of the hybrids are characterized by the long legs of the Negro and the short arms of the white, which would put them at a disadvantage in picking up things from the ground" (p. 238). According to Davenport, American society must realize that it is "this burden of ineffectiveness which is the heavy price that is paid for hybridization" (p. 238).


Davenport and Steggerda's (1929) book appears as a masterpiece of empirical research: a collection of more than three-hundred tables, more than hundred figures, and thousands of numbers, based on a battery of sophisticated tests and an impressive number of research subjects. Davenport, in his self-understanding, was not producing ideology but pure objective empirical science. As an objective scientist he even entertained the question of whether it would benefit the English race to increase their musical capacity by mixing with Blacks. After careful consideration he rejected this idea because one would not be able to control the process and more importantly, there was "a strong instinct for homogeneity" (Davenport, 1928, p. 238). It meant that race conscious white people would not intermingle with the other races, anyway.


Davenport's counterpart in Germany was Eugen Fischer (1913/1961), whose work Davenport knew well. Fischer who became famous and infamous for his role in Nazi Germany eugenics (see Weingart, Kroll, & Bayertz, 1988) had already published a systematic anthropological empirical study on "bastards" in German Southwest Africa in 1913. According to Fischer, who emphasized how rewarding his research experiences were, the study was the first anthropological study to deal with a bastard people. From a perspective of problematization the whole book made this people a problem. The study was impressive: It covered history, anthropology, economy, customs, and the lives of the bastards of Rehoboth c hybrids between Dutch and Hottentots. It included the genealogical reconstruction of single families, hundreds of measurements, many tables, pictures, graphs, and plentiful data.


Fischer, for example, addressed the idea that mixed race persons possessed attractive faces. He argued that the notion that bastardization leads to beautiful faces was an illusion. These faces were, according to Fischer, beautiful in comparison to the non-mixed colored people. He rejected that one could seriously compare them to the "truly beautiful well-balanced pure European faces" (p. 166).[12] Fischer praised the bastards while at the same time he left no doubt about their inferiority. He commended the bastards' support for Germany and their courage and dedication as allies in the wars in Southwest Africa. He even called this group "the best of the colony" (p. 299). On the other hand he left no doubt about their social and psychological shortcomings. His language - although difficult to convey in English - was condescending, and he used a style of description and interpretation that one would rather use for animals than for humans. With regard to measuring the fatness of his research objects, he reported that more than half of the bastard women had fat contents and extensive fat deposits at their "hips, outer part of their thighs and at the bottoms" (p. 66). These women "match the fattest European woman, even surpass her" (pp. 66-67).


Fischer also had a section on psychology in his book in which he characterized the mental life of bastards. A subtle technique of problematization was to suggest, as Fischer did, that there were difficulties in making general judgments on bastards, while at the same time judgments were made anyway. According to Fischer, the bastard's emotional life was dull (p. 292), his emotions were slow, and thus he made the impression of being apathetic. This apathy explained for Fischer why the bastards were described as brutal and cruel. The bastard was serious, curious, but a steady will was missing (p. 294). He was characterized as lazy, vain, and proud and, at the same time, good-natured and complaisant. All in all, he lacked the energy of the European. The bastard's intelligence was "not low" although Fischer observed that cognition processed remarkably slowly (p. 295). Foresight was lacking which made the bastard prone to alcohol. Fischer summarized that bastards were "inferior [minderwertig] regarding mental powers compared to the pure Whites" (p. 296). In addition, regarding their racial character (Fischer referred to a combination of energy, fantasy, intelligence, self-awareness, character, and physical ability) "our bastards are immensely inferior to the European, as all bastards" (p. 298). His book ended with a call for more anthropological research, which should pave the way for practical eugenics c a chilling ending given what is known now about his role in Nazi eugenics.[13]


Fischer and Davenport laid the foundation and other scientists followed their lead by using the same techniques of problematization and referring to their research. For example, Herbert Spencer Jennings, a Harvard trained professor at Johns Hopkins, wanted experimental biology in The Biological Basis of Human Nature (Jennings, 1930) to provide a "solid foundation" (p. 269) for understanding race mixture. Jennings, too, problematized human race mixture by looking at the problematic results of hybridity in the animal world. For example, biology showed that when very diverse organisms mix then the effect could be "poisonous" (p. 270). Another effect might be sterility, shown by many crosses between different species, and another might lead to "disharmonious combinations" (p. 274). Jennings suggested that the offspring might even be superior - but only if two slightly diverse races were mating (see below, for the distance theory or race mixture).


After having established race crossing in the animal world - which showed more negative than positive results - Jennings suggested that there was no incompatibility of chromosomes, fundamental structures, and functions between human races. He even discussed advantages of race crossing, namely hybrid vigor, which had been observed in race mixture. But Jennings concluded that this hybrid vigor was "probably lessened owing to the fact … that in certain details the characteristics of the two races may be inharmonious" (p. 280). As evidence for inharmonious characteristics he summarized the studies of Davenport, suggesting that mulattos showed a disharmonious combination of legs and body, that race mixture might lead to a large body with small kidneys, or large teeth crowded in a small jaw, and that crowded and defective teeth were less common in less mixed nations.


As "evidence" for inharmonious combinations, Jennings reported a study by the German Lang who had analyzed the effects of breeding a dachshund with a Great St. Bernard dog (see also Tucker in this book). Jennings (p. 281) reprinted a drawing from Lang that showed a dog with short crooked legs and a large body. As Jennings put it: "The result … was neither beautiful nor efficient" (p. 282). Jennings also discussed mental characteristics of cross breeding and again relied on Davenport and Steggerda suggesting that hybrids demonstrated inharmonious mental combinations more frequently. He even discussed the impact of race crossing on social systems, and concluded that "the hybrid individual does not fit either system; he is rejected by both" (p. 287).


Jennings in his problematization of human hybridity relied on the arguments of Davenport and Fischer, who had based their ideas on various techniques of problematization. Just like Davenport, he sought to present the aura of objectivity and thus discussed favorable bybrid combinations. However, in the case of favorable outcomes he solely focused on the positive effects produced by various animal breeders. Jennings' conclusion in the human domain was unambiguous: "A nation composed of races in process of mixture will not be among those happy peoples whose annals are vacant" (p. 288). As the white race was superior in "matters of judgement, of adjustment to condition" (p. 286), in Jennings' own words, "to the superior race, admixture with the inferior one is adulteration; it means a lowering of quality" (p. 287).


From a presentist perspective one should add that critics of these findings then (and now) were trapped in a dilemma. They might reject this discourse based on the concepts used and the questions asked. They might challenge ideas on whether, for example, the organs of a mixed Scot and Italian were harmonious or not. But their opponents also included "empirical" data, a strong authority in a scientific and technology-based society. Critics would loose in academia and in the public sphere as long as they were not able to counter the knowledge constructed in research. However, challenging the knowledge meant listening to the questions, implicitly sharing some of the assumptions, participating in the empirical language game, and providing alternative empirical data. I suggest that in providing alternative empirical evidence they contributed to the problematization of hybridity as they were forced to test the same hypotheses as their opponents.[14]


The zoologist William Castle (1930) challenged the notion of "disharmony." He pointed out in his criticism of Jennings that the St.Bernard-Dachshund cross did not show more disharmony than the dachshund itself. He also argued that the notion of disproportional organs in crosses between Northern and Southern Europeans showed a "complete vacuum of evidence" (p. 604). With regard to Davenport's and Steggerda's account of the hybrids with long legs and short arms he suggested that not one of the many pictures in the book would indicate this problem. Castle concluded that the "broad sweeping statements" (p. 605) "will be with us as the bogey men of pure-race enthusiasts for the next hundred years" (p. 606). The anthropologist Melville Herskovits (1934) opposed scientific racism's interpretation of results on race crossing based on his own empirical studies. He pointed out that ancestry was more important than the mere act of mixing. If the ancestors were capable, then the descendants will inherit it. Thus, purebred stock with poorly endowed ancestors would be poorly endowed. His conclusion was that "the mere fact of crossing cannot be held a causative one of primary importance" (p. 402).[15]


Sociological and social-psychological discourses


The North American social-psychological and sociological discourse before WWII can be characterized as a move from a racist to a racialized problematization of hybridity (see Richards, 1997; Samelson, 1978). Many sociological discourses listened to the biological voice while introducing a sociological one. For example, Frank Hankins (1926), professor of sociology, added the "psycho-social handicaps under which hybrids usually labor" (p. 329) to the canon of questions relevant in the discussion on hybridity. However, his reflections focused mostly on the results of biology including those of Fischer and Davenport. Hankins rejected some of Davenport's interpretations as appearing "to be pure pseudo-scientific bunk" (p. 344) and concluded that "race crossing as such is not biologically injurious" (p. 343). Hankins' concern was the inferior imbecile or moron, whether purebred or hybrid, for which he desired eugenic measures regardless of race. He saw "no sound biological argument" (p. 347) against white-black crosses, yet, did not challenge the idea that the mulatto in intellectual ability ranks intermediate between white and black norms: "Average mulattoes are doubtless superior to average pure negroes in general intelligence, but inferior to average whites" (p. 347). Beyond race mixture, Hankins' critical concern focused solely on challenging the idea that the Nordic race was more productive than the other European races.


Edward B. Reuter (1931), professor of sociology at the State University of Iowa, compiled his many studies on hybridity in a book.[16] He suggested in 1917 that the mulatto and other mixed races were not inferior, as some researchers held, but superior to the pure-blood natives. For Reuter (1917), the mixed-blood was not a median group but "stands nearer to the Caucasian than to the Negro parent" (p. 105). He tried to make sense of this "superiority" by discussing various possible factors such as "superior racial heredity" (p. 87). Reuter also discussed social psychological factors to account for the superiority of the mulatto but rejected the idea that superiority can be explained based on environment and opportunity. Instead he suggested that "there has been in the past a biological selection in favor of the mulatto group" (p. 97) founded on expectancy effects and social prestige. Reuter (1930) also challenged various hypotheses in the context of the assumed relationship of civilization and race crossing. After careful consideration he concluded that races and cultures were independent issues and that "neither racial amalgamation nor racial purity is a causal factor in civilization" (p. 449). Despite his critical intentions in challenging the inferiority of the mulatto and the decadence theory Reuter did not overcome the problematization of hybridity.


The breakthrough for sociologists and social psychologists arrived with the introduction and dissemination of the concept of the marginal man, which elicited its own research tradition independent of biology. This did not mean, however, that the circle of problematization had been overcome, rather, it made hybridity not a biological but a social problem. The term marginal man was popularized in academia by Robert E. Park, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, who published in 1928 a paper on Human migration and the marginal man (Park, 1928). Park's basic thesis was that human migration produced a situation in which individuals meet and mix and that "ordinarily the marginal man is a mixed blood, like the Mulatto in the United States or the Eurasian in Asia" (p. 893). However, Park already provided a more comprehensive definition in arguing that the concept of the marginal man not only referred to racial hybrids but also included cultural marginal men living in permanent transition and crisis.


It was clear for Park that the marginal men could be described and understood as a personality type with a particular mental life. Park (1931) described the personality and the mentality of racial hybrids in greater detail in a 1931 article. He emphasized that "the character of the intelligence which he displays, and the general level of the intellectual life he has achieved c is very largely due to the social situation" (p. 540). Park even suggested that the many intelligence tests that had been administered were "inconclusive" (p. 540) as they did not properly distinguish between nature and nurture. It did not hinder him to point out that the "mulattoes were superior to the Negroes" (p. 541) in these tests and that there was in terms of achievement and status "no question at all in regard to the actual superiority of the mulatto in comparison to the Negro" (p. 542).


According to Park, mulattos as a group exhibited specific personality characteristics. They were "more enterprising than the Negroes, more restless, aggressive, and ambitious … often sensitive and self-conscious to an extraordinary degree" (p. 545). The mulatto was "more intelligent because, for one thing, he is more stimulated, and, for another, takes himself more seriously" (p. 545). Park then attributed "the general egocentric behavior of the mulatto" (p. 546) to the "infusion of blood of the dominant race" (p. 546). As a sociologist he emphasized not only the biological but also the cultural inheritance of the marginal man:


If the mulatto displays intellectual characteristics and personality traits superior to and different from those of the black man, it is not because of his biological inheritance merely, but rather more, I am inclined to believe of his more intimate association with the superior cultural group. (p. 547)


Park's ambiguous attribution of certain mental and personal characteristics of racial hybrids to biology and culture did by no means overcome the problematization of hybridity - it solely introduced sociology as an apt tool for problematization.


Park (1937) also wrote the introduction to Everett V. Stonequist's (1937) book The Marginal Man, who further popularized the concept. Park pointed to the European expansion that had produced a personality type, a marginal man, who was forced to live in two antagonistic societies or cultures. On the background of European politics in the 1930s, he mentioned positive outcomes of marginality such as a "wider horizon, the keener intelligence, the more detached and rational viewpoint" (pp xvii-xviii). Park specifically moved away from the mulatto as a racial marginal man to the Jew as a cultural marginal man who was "relatively the more civilized human being" (p. xviii) - the Jew in the Diaspora "has everywhere and always been the most civilized of human creatures" (p. xviii).


For Stonequist (1937) the marginal man was an "individual who through migration, education, marriage, or some other influence leaves one social group or culture without making a satisfactory adjustment to another finds himself on the margin of each but a member of neither" (pp. 2-3). Marginality could be constituted through class, culture, religion, and other group memberships but "the most obvious type of marginal man is the person of mixed race ancestry" (p. 10). Discussed in detail were the Eurasians of India, the Cape Colored of South Africa, the mulattos of the United States, the colored people of Jamaica, the Indo-Europeans of Java, the part-Hawaiians, and the mixed populations of Brazil. Regarding the hybrids of the United States Stonequist pointed to the social situation (one drop of Negro blood rule) in the United States that presented a specific situation: "He is more likely to be restless and race-conscious, aggressive and radical, ambitious and creative" (p. 25).


Stonequist devoted a whole chapter in his book to the personality traits of the marginal man. Basically, the marginal man was estranged from both cultures and thus showed an "ambivalence of attitude and sentiment" (p. 146). Hybrid disharmonies, as described by biologists (see above), were reinterpreted sociologically: ambivalence, "together with nervous strain, is at the root of most if not all of the behaviour which has frequently been viewed by the biologically minded in terms of 'racial disharmony'" (pp. 147-148). It was the marginal situation that produced "excessive self-consciousness and race-consciousness" (p. 148). Too, an inferiority complex was a common affliction among the marginal men (see p. 148). Stonequist who described the marginal mulatto as creative (see above) suggested that the marginal Jew's increased mental activity was "imitative and conformist, not creative, in nature" (p. 155).


Stonequist was not working with the premises of scientific racism; however, he shifted between accepting some parts of the racist discourse and an environmental sociological discourse. It seems that his problematization of the ambivalent marginal man expressed more of Stonequist's own theoretical ambivalence towards racial hybrids. On the one hand he believed that the hybrid possesses characteristics of manner, thought and speech which were biologically inherited from both lines of ancestry whereas on the other hand he emphasized that "the marginal personality is a function of social conditions" (p. 211). He even portrayed the marginal personality as the "key-personality in the contacts of cultures" (p. 221) who "sometimes succeeds in making an adjustment to his situation" (p. 221). This discourse clearly did not overcome the problematization of hybridity but contributed to it. Stonequist had no clear understanding of the relationship between forms of personality and society and no understanding with regard to viewing problems from the perspective of the hybrid. Although sympathetic to the fate of the hybrid his analyses were paternalistic and the premise was clear: Because of his "peculiarities the mixed blood presents a special problem for the community" (p. 10).[17]


Pioneers of psychology on hybridity


Some pioneers of psychology had strong opinions about race mixture. Paul Broca (1824-1880), the famous brain researcher, dedicated a whole booklet to the phenomenon of human hybridity. Broca's (1864) self-understanding was that of a neutral and objective scientist and he warned that "the intervention of political and social considerations has not been less injurious to Anthropology than the religious element" (p. 69) whereas in science "facts must answer the question" (p. 15). Rejecting Gobineau's universal rejection of hybridity, he was a supporter and promoter of what one could call the distance theory of hybridity: mixture of closely related races is beneficial whereas mixture of distant races is perilous.[18] Broca considered the French and the British to be mixed races; in fact "the greater part of Western Europe is inhabited by mixed races" (p. 18). Mixture in this context was labelled "eugenesic," meaning that the hybrids were totally fertile.


Broca argued that the intermixture of distant races was not eugenesic, surveying systematically the literature of his time. He concluded that "Mulattoes of the first degree, issued from the union of the Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) race with the African Negroes, appear inferior in fecundity and longevity to individuals of the pure races" (p. 60), and that "it is at least doubtful, whether these Mulattoes, in their alliances between themselves, are capable of indefinitely perpetuating their race" (p. 60). Rejecting accounts of monogenism he concluded:


To be inferior to another man either in intelligence, vigour, or beauty, is not a humiliating condition. On the contrary, one might be ashamed to have undergone a physical or moral degradation, to have descended the scale of beings and to have lost rank in creation. (p. 71)[19]


Francis Galton (1822-1911), one of the most important British figures in the history of Western psychology, supported partially the hypothesis that mixture among closely related races can be favorable. He praised the mixture in which vigor of the Scandinavians joined with the vivacity of the Gaul and the Huguenots were beneficial to England as "the cross breed between them and our ancestors was a singularly successful mixture" (Galton, 1869/1962, p. 38). On the other hand Galton (1874/1970) raised the question of whether "a mixture of one or more of the various civilized races is conducive to form an able offspring" (p. 18). It "appeared" to Galton with regard to his men of science that "their ability is higher in proportion to their numbers among those of pure race" (p. 18).[20]


Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), another supporter of the distance hypothesis, suggested that there was "abundant proof, alike furnished by the inter-marriages of human races and by the inter-breeding of animals, that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain slight degree the result is invariably a bad one in the long run" (Spencer, 1972, p. 256). Describing the abilities of the hybrid in his Principles of Sociology he concluded: "The half caste, inheriting from one line of ancestry proclivities adapted to one set of institutions, and from the other line of ancestry proclivities adapted to another set of institutions, is not fitted for either" (Spencer, 1972, p. 163). Hybrid societies were unstable and thus should be organized based "on the principle of compulsory co-operation; since units much opposed in their natures cannot work together spontaneously" (p. 166). His advice to the modernizers of Japan included that the inter-marriage of foreigners and Japanese "should be positively forbidden" (p. 256). He warned his American readers:


If the Chinese are allowed to settle extensively in America, they must either, if they remain unmixed, form a subject race in the position, if not of slaves, yet of a class approaching to slaves; or if the mix they must form a bad hybrid. (p. 257)


G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924), one of the fathers of American psychology, had a long chapter on Adolescent races and their treatment in his famous book on Adolescence (Hall, 1907), in which race mixture was a recurring topic. Accepting the distance theory, he mentioned the beneficial qualities of the "neo-Aryan" type (p. 723), and identifying the Anglo-Saxons, the Germans, and the Jews as mixed races. Hall doubted that race mixture among differing races was beneficial, referring to Negro and American Indian crosses, warning of increased mixed race populations in Mexico. He summarized research suggesting that the decrease of pure whites in the population led to "bad food, shelter, medical treatment, especially the ravages of smallpox, and premature marriages" (p. 682). On the other hand he was sensitive towards social prejudice in the characterization of hybrids: "The bad qualities of half-breeds are generally due to prejudice and social ostracism" (p. 722). A similar ambivalent pattern can be detected in his discussion of India's Eurasians. Reviewing research Hall emphasized that some Eurasians were legitimate children of honest parents and that they suffered under taboos even when they came from formidable backgrounds. On the other hand he did not distance himself from the burning question:


What to do with the festering hordes of low-class Eurasians, mostly the fruits of sin, the very sediment of pagan Asia, the best of them constantly roving, often begging with effrontery from Englishmen as if they had claims upon them, often with hereditary languor and constitutional laziness … . (p. 708)


Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) (1924), heralded by historians as one of the fathers of social psychology, divided - based on psychological characteristics - humans into primitive, inferior, average, and superior races (pp. 26-27). He did not doubt that "very different races, the black and the white for example, may fuse, but the half-breeds that result constitute a population very inferior to those of which it is sprung, and utterly incapable of creating or even of continuing, a civilisation" (p. 52). As a supporter of the distance hypothesis Le Bon stated that interbreeding of distant peoples would destroy "the soul of the races" (p. 54). However, cross-breeding might be a source of improvement if it occurred among superior races such as the English and Germans of America (p. 53). He also believed that peoples with a high degree of civilization "carefully avoid intermarrying with foreigners" (p. 54) and predicted that "as the world grows older, the races become more and more stable and their transformation by means of fusion rare and rarer" (p. 59-60).


Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), the great man of German experimental psychology, had surprisingly little to say about race mixture in his ten volumes of folk psychology. He suggested in his analysis of language (Wundt, 1921) that there were three factors responsible for changes in phonetic expression [Lautwandel]: the influence of natural environment, the mixture of peoples and races, and the influence of culture. Neither this analysis was based on a racial ideology nor his suggestion that the caste system in India cannot be explained by race mixture or race differences (Wundt, 1929, p. 235). A more ambiguous statement can be found in his analysis of society, in which he wrote (Wundt, 1928, pp. 269-270) that the mulatto was not just a blend but a new type. This type was considered (Wundt did not mention by whom) inferior in terms of resilience [Widerstandskraft] and capacity [Leistungsfähigkeit]. Although he seemed to buy into the distance theory, suggesting that the mixture of persons with few race differences might lead to improvement, an ideological discourse of problematization was lacking in his folk psychology.[21]


Empirical discourses in psychology


Many of the above-cited examples represent a rhetorical problematization of hybridity by which I mean the verbal (discursive, written) construction of mixed race as a problem. It can easily be observed in the speculations, the interpretation of data and the conclusions that researchers drew. The more ideological the discourse, the more important it was to emphasize the scientific and objective nature of research. But if human scientists want to become epistemologically objective they must include questions of where research problems came from and of the historical nexus between academic and social agendas. Besides the rhetorical construction of hybridity as a problem, I suggest that in empirical psychology the mere act of hypothesis testing (of the impact of various degrees of hybridity on psychological variables), sometimes without prejudiced interpretation, contributes to the problematization of hybridity - I label this act the non-rhetorical problematization of hybridity. Of course, in many cases the rhetorical and non-rhetorical problematization went hand in hand (Davenport and Fischer).


One of the first studies was conducted by Strong (1913) who tested and compared white and colored children on the Binet-Simon scale. In a small sub-study she divided her colored sample into three groups according to color: dark children, medium in color children, and light colored children. She found that "the darkest children are more nearly normal, the lightest show the greatest variation, both above and below normal" (p. 506). She admitted that "this classification was not a scientific one and the statement of results may be entirely worthless" (p. 506). This was a variation of the "it is difficult to make statements, but I make them anyway" technique of problematization pointed out earlier (Fischer). On the one hand Strong admitted that the findings might be without scientific value; on the other she reported her results. The mere act of reporting the results and introducing degree of color as a psychological variable in empirical studies contributed to the problematization of hybridity. Later literature reviews failed to cite the caution.


Ferguson (1916), who provided a good overview of ideas and early empirical studies on hybridity, cited Strong's results without caution (p. 87). He himself tested systematically the mulatto hypothesis, meaning the effects of hybridity on various (psychological) variables. The sample was classified by Ferguson "who had had considerable experience with negroes" (p. 92) into four groups: pure negroes; negroes three-fourths pure; mulattoes proper; and (d) quadroons (p. 91). He "knew" that the average performance of the colored population in tests of higher capacity was "only about three-fourths as efficient as the performance of whites of the same amount of training" (p. 123) and he even suggested that his results underestimate racial differences as the "unselected masses of Negroes" (p. 123) had a much smaller percentage of white blood. With regard to his hypothesis, Ferguson found that intellectual performance in general depended on the degree of color (see p. 125): Pure negroes reached 60% of intellectual white efficiency; negroes three-fourths pure achieved 70%; mulattoes 80%; and quadroons 90%, respectively. Willing to share his predictions regarding bybridity, Ferguson, who showed some sympathy for the fate of the colored people, comforted the (white) reader because "the white blood in a mulatto does not return to the white race through intermarriage; the white stock will remain pure" (p. 130). Finally, he predicted race friction because "the mulatto is not as tractable or as submissive to white domination as is the pure negro" (p. 130).


Interestingly, there were numerous empirical studies on mixed-blood Indians (native Americans) in North America.[22] For example, Hunter and Sommermier (1922) studied the level of intelligence based on degree of Indian blood, developing the following participant categories: pure Indian blood; three-quarters Indian blood; one-half Indian blood; and one-quarter Indian blood - well aware "that the white blood present in the various hybrids is of a low grade" (p. 259). The authors tested whether "the ability involved in the Otis test decreases with a decrease in the amount of white blood" (p. 257). The results, displayed in scientific tables, graphs, numbers, and statistics, indicated indeed differences between white and Indian children (white children were not tested but data from previous tests were used), and a correlation between degree of Indian blood and intelligence. Admitting that the Indian's social environment is probably "inferior" (p. 274) to that of white children, and even discussing age, sex, social status, schooling, and school grade as potential factors to account for the differences they had found, nevertheless, Hunter and Sommermier concluded that the main explanation was reduced to "tempermental [sic] and intelligence differences due to race" (p. 277). The conclusion was possible because the authors biologized social status, which "may well be the result of low intelligence" (p. 274).


Garth (1923) expressed empirical psychology's basic hypothesis on hybridity clearly, namely, that "mixture of different lines brings about differences in intelligence" (p. 388). His subjects included Mexicans; mixed-blood Indians; Plains and Southeastern full-blood Indians; Pueblo full-blood Indians; and Navajo and Apache full-blood. The results yielded that the mixed-blood scores were highest, followed by the Mexicans, the Plains and Southeastern full-blood Indians, and the Pueblo full-blood Indians. The Navajo and Apache were "the least intelligent" (p. 393). Surprisingly, Garth included arguments for explaining these results based on education, suggesting that the mixed bloods experienced the highest education. He also argued that the social status of the mixed-blood was the highest. He concluded for the groups under question that "because of the fact that social status and education have not been controlled, we may not positively state that these data indicate innate racial differences in intelligence" (p. 401).[23]


Jamieson and Sandiford (1928) tested pupils of the Six Nations near Brantford, Ontario. Although the authors pointed out that the Indian children suffered from a language handicap, that the social status was not the same for these children, and that the results depended on the tests used in the study, they concluded that "IQ seems to rise with the admixture of white blood but the results must be interpreted with caution … also because the amount of white blood cannot be determined with accuracy" (pp. 325-327). This was a variation of the "it is difficult to make statements, but I make them anyway" technique of problematization, and the results were reported because they fitted the Zeitgeist, and fulfilled social and academic expectations.


Telford (1932) on the other hand found "no evidence of a relationship between degree of white blood and test performance, unless it be a slight negative one for the Chippewas" (p. 140). He concluded that the results obtained could be explained by selective breeding: "there probably exist blood strains within any race which are superior to certain blood lines within any other race" (pp. 140-141). This meant that the hybrid could achieve high or low scores depending upon the strains of the mixed races. He also suggested that the superiority of the mulattos could be explained by biological selection that favored the mulatto (see above).


One could list many more studies in this context but the general theme should be clear: an infinite possibility to test various hypotheses regarding hybridity with a sheer unlimited amount of psychological variables leading nowhere but to the reproduction and production of problematization. Although studies on the mulatto hypothesis have become rarer after WWII, it was again in the 1970s that the mainstream psychologists Scarr and Weinberg (1976) posed the question: "Do interracial children (with one black and one white parent) perform at higher levels on IQ tests than do children with two black parents; that is, does the degree of white ancestry affect IQ score?" (p. 727). The authors find significant differences in IQ scores but attribute them mainly to environmental factors. They also kept to this variable in their longitudinal follow-up studies (e.g., Weinberg, Scarr, & Waldman, 1992). Rushton (1999) later used this research in order to suggest that "Mixed-Race" (p. 66) children prove his theory of inherited racial differences in intelligence.


The paradigm shift


After WWII and the international recognition that racism was the essential component of German fascism and its atrocities, it became more difficult to promote studies that claimed the inferiority of minority ethnic groups. Nevertheless, given the power of pre-war discourses it was considered essential to take a position on these issues. In this context, Shapiro (1953) published the UNESCO booklet on Race Mixture. In a "liberal" fashion he rejected the discourse of superiority and pointed out that the variation between races was less than the variation within a race. However, a close scrutiny shows that despite his good intentions he was not fundamentally overcoming the problematization of hybridity. This was evident when he argued that "to recognize the importance of race mixture in the modern world does not unfortunately provide us with the solutions to problems which it raises" (p. 50).


Shapiro's language was ambivalent: "Race mixture has had a field day in Hawaii. Polynesians, all kinds and degrees of Europeans and Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos … have met here and produced a bewildering array of hybrids" (pp. 46-47). He talked about mixed progeny and "disabilities they suffer anyway as half-castes" (p. 52), whereby it was not clear what was meant by the term disabilities. Certainly, Shapiro rejected Gobineau's emphasis on race in order to understand history, but he wrote that we can "scarcely hope to understand the populations, of such countries as Mexico or Brazil … without a knowledge of the history of miscegenation that has produced them" (p. 50).


Shapiro's savior was science, believing that it would overcome prejudice and racism - not realizing that it was science that was responsible for systematic racist constructions by the best-trained and most esteemed scientists. His rejection of racism was based on the interpretation of data which led him to conclude for hybridity that "it depends who is crossing with whom" (p. 52). Shapiro, chairman of the department of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, participated in a discourse that challenged the context of justification but neglected the context of discovery. This type of discourse led to a disregard and a critique of the liberal institutions and enlightened writings in the 1980s and 1990s in various forms of postmodernism and post-colonialism. Postcolonial writers point to the eurocentric nature of science including the enlightened one (see Harding, 1998).


In psychology one can observe a slow "paradigm shift" from understanding hybridity as a problem to understanding and identifying the problems that multiracial individuals encounter in a given socio-cultural context such as North America. One of the main problems that hybrids encounter in society was and is that they were construed as a problem. This shift was inaugurated by multiracial academics themselves who switched the focus from being objects of research to subjects, in the sense that multiracial subjectivity must be central in the discourse on hybridity. Two significant books in the 1990s signify this paradigm shift: Racially Mixed People in America (Root, 1992) and The Multiracial Experience (Root, 1996).


In addition, the political discourse shifted and now emphasizes the contribution of mixed race populations to history. For example, the Canadian citizenship booklet (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1999) mentions the contribution of Metis in the establishment of Canada, who are recognized as an aboriginal people in Canada. In the United States (see Root, 1996) the situation changed with the Civil Rights Movement and in 1967 the Supreme Court ("Loving v. Virginia") overturned the remaining state laws against interracial marriages. In 1988 the Association of Multiethnic Americans was founded which lobbied on legal issues as well as on challenging the premise of a single racial identity.


A cultural shift may also be seen in the context of the US presidential elections of 2000, which forced Bob Jones University, which had disallowed interracial dating, to change its policies. Multiraciality has not lost its connection with sexuality. This can also be understood in the depiction of interracial sex, which remains a category for many sex sites on the Internet. However, the public is also fascinated by hybridity as a general topic; for example, the Canadian newsmagazine MacLean's had a cover story in its August 27, 2001, issue: Black + White ... equals black, says author Lawrence Hill in an excerpt form his provocative new book and Mixed race Canadians chronicle their search for identity. The magazine reported the voices of multiracial people in Canada without providing problematizations.


The epistemological problem in the field of hybridity is not the hybrid but an ideologically motivated category mistake that conceptualizes hybridity as a natural kind (see Tate & Audette, 2001). However, hybridity is of a social, historical, and cultural kind. When multiracial persons discuss hybridity they should do so in this sense and address historical injustices and problems they encounter. I say should as of course multiracial people are part of the same socio-cultural mainstream and thus may reproduce the same category mistake. It makes no scientific sense to use hybridity as a natural kind variable in psychological research. A similar argument can be applied to the concept of race itself, but the concept of race seems so self-evident that it will take some more time for its public deconstruction. I hope that the concept of hybridity contributes to the deconstruction of the concept of race, by pointing out that a biracial person, for example, is not black or white, but both, black and white (see Teo, 1994).


Academic discourses on hybridity must be analyzed in terms of their ideological function. It is clear that many discourses, for which examples were given in this argument, served oppression and, from the perspective of multiracial persons, they were part of discursive violence. Indeed, it is necessary to label research on hybridity as an historical example of epistemic violence (see Spivak, 1999). The human sciences and psychology were important players and had an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people. They contributed to the degradation, subjugation, and humiliation of multiracial people, in some cases to their sterilization, and death. Knowledge produced in these discourses in which hybrids were viewed as objects and not as subjects of research is violent knowledge.


Some human scientists argue that knowledge is knowledge regardless of the context of discovery and that science should not be restricted by political concerns (see Furedy, 1997; Rushton, 1999). What these scientists label "political" considerations are in fact ethical ones. But in the name of ethical knowledge, human scientists do not send individuals to concentration camps anymore in order to perform objective medical experiments that may or may not benefit others, and contemporary researchers do not inject individuals with diseases without their knowledge in order to gain objective longitudinal data on the trajectory of a sickness. There is an ethical consensus, a rational ethical consensus, that studies that exploit and abuse groups of people should be part of the human sciences' past. I am hopeful that there is reason in human history.





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[1] The terms "race," "race mixture," "hybridity," and other words in this context should only be used in quotation marks because their scientific value is questionable. However, as these terms are used and referred to on a recurring basis, I do not always use quotation marks.

[2] I prefer the term hybridity to biraciality and multiraciality. Although the term "hybrid" was already used by Prichard (1813) in the context of answering the question of whether human races constitute one species or not, and although the term has been used in pejorative terms, it seems that in some of the more recent postcolonial discourses it has been used in positive ways (see Young, 1995).

[3] Academic problematization is understood as the process in which groups or individuals are made into a problem. Historically women, various "races," gays and lesbians, mentally ill persons, etc. have been transformed into problems in the human sciences.

[4] The term "liberal" does not refer to any contemporary sense of justice. For example, the code suggested that a slave, who strikes his master or his master's children, so that they bleed, should be punished with death.

[5] In 16th century Spain a racial theory developed along with the concept of purity of blood (see Netanyahu,1995).

[6] My translation.

[7] This metaphor (of problematization) was not the best example as oil and vinegar work well together in culinary contexts.

[8] A mule is the infertile offspring of mare and male ass (or of she-ass and stallion). Fertility and infertility were core issues in the physical discourse on mixed race.

[9] Harmony and disharmony may be considered aesthetic categories, but in the context of biology and anthropology they become metaphysical concepts. Davenport never clarified in a precise way what constituted physical, mental, temperamental, and environmental disharmony.

[10] This idea goes back to Darwin (1871).

[11] The English word mulatto was derived from the Spanish "mulato," meaning young mule (mulo).

[12] Quotations from Fischer's book are my translations.

[13] The publisher of the 1961 edition, printed in Graz (Austria), justified the postwar edition with the supposed scientific foundational character of the book. According to him, the book has nothing to do with politics.

[14] I suggest that, for example, testing the hypothesis whether mulattos are unhappy and a nuisance to others (see Davenport section) is not neutral but an act that contributes to making mulattos a problem.

[15] For a detailed analysis of the change in biological Zeitgeist see Provine (1973) who showed that there was a move of arguments in biology from condemnation of race crossing to agnosticism in the 1930s and that after WWII mainstream biology agreed that race-crossing was not detrimental. However, from a perspective of problematization, already answering the question of whether race mixture was good or bad contributed to the problematization of hybridity.

[16] The book contains previously published journal articles from 1917 to 1930.

[17] The literature on the marginal man is extensive and contains many postwar articles (e.g., Antonovsky, 1956).

[18] This was a dominant view from the 1850s to the 1930s (see, Young, 1995).

[19] Darwin (1871) recommended in his Descent of Man to consult Broca's work on hybridity, who is labeled a "philosophical observer" (p. 221). Darwin himself suggested that "no doubt both animal and vegetable hybrids, when produced from extremely distinct species, are liable to premature death; but the parents of mulattoes cannot be put under the category of extremely distinct species"(p. 221). He argued that from an offspring no rules could be derived on whether the parents form a species or a variety (p. 223).

[20] Cryptic comments on hybridity can also be found in Galton (1869/1962, pp. 418-419).

[21] Also the German psychologist-anthropologist Theodor Waitz (1863) discussed hybridity in a non-racist fashion. For the attitude of more contemporary psychologists see Tucker, in this book.

[22] I believe that these studies were performed partly because of the easy access to samples.

[23] Garth (1931) listed more than 100 empirical studies on race for the beginnings of psychology. For a detailed analysis of Garth's position see Richards (1998).