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Becoming YellowA Short History of Racial Thinking$
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Michael Keevak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691140315

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691140315.001.0001

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East Asian Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Medicine

East Asian Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Medicine

The Mongolian Eye, the Mongolian Spot, and “Mongolism”

Chapter:
(p.101) Chapter 4 East Asian Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Medicine
Source:
Becoming Yellow
Author(s):

Michael Keevak

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691140315.003.0005

This chapter examines how the Mongolian race was perceived in nineteenth-century Western medicine. More specifically, it considers medical explanations for certain conditions deemed to be associated with “Mongolian” bodies and endemic in, or in some way linked to, the race as a whole, including the “Mongolian eye,” the “Mongolian spot,” and “Mongolism” (now known as Down syndrome). The chapter argues that each of these “Mongolian” conditions became a way of distancing the Mongolian race from a white Western norm, since they were taken to be either characteristic of irregular East Asian bodies. It also contends that “Mongolianness” served as a rationale for racism just as much as the other way around.

Keywords:   medicine, Mongolian race, Mongolian bodies, Mongolian eye, Mongolian spot, Mongolism, East Asian bodies, Mongolianness, racism, Down syndrome

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