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Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology

On-line version ISSN 1809-4341

Abstract

MAIO, Marcos Chor  and  SANTOS, Ricardo Ventura. Antiracism and the uses of science in the post-World War II: An analysis of UNESCO's first statements on race (1950 and 1951). Vibrant, Virtual Braz. Anthr. [online]. 2015, vol.12, n.2, pp.1-26. ISSN 1809-4341.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-43412015v12n2p001.

As part of its antiracist agenda under the impact of the World War II, UNESCO tried to negate the scientific value of the race concept based on meetings and statements engaging natural and social scientists. It is our interpretation that, contrary to what UNESCO had expected, the Nazi Genocide had not led scientists to a meeting of the minds about a scientific corpus that radically questioned the concept of race. A range of positions could be heard in the discussions by the panel of experts (1949) who produced the First Statement on Race (1950). Our argument is that UNESCO was influenced by a perspective centered on the assumption that amassing scientific data would be the best way to sustain a political agenda that sought to negate the concept of race as well as to fight racism. Reactions to the First Statement were quick in coming and UNESCO called another meeting to debate race in 1951.

Keywords : race; racism; Unesco; anthropology; history of science; Statement on race.

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