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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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Taxonomies of Yellow

Taxonomies of Yellow

Linnaeus, Blumenbach, and the Making of a “Mongolian” Race in the Eighteenth Century

(p.43) Chapter 2 Taxonomies of Yellow
Becoming Yellow

Michael Keevak

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the emergence of new sorts of human taxonomies as well as new claims about the color of all human groups, including East Asians, during the course of the eighteenth century, as well as their racial implications. It first considers the theory advanced in 1684 by the French physician and traveler François Bernier, who proposed a “new division of the Earth, according to the different species or races of man which inhabit it.” One of these races, he suggested, was yellow. Then in 1735, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus published Systema naturae, in which he categorized homo sapiens into four different skin colors. Finally, at the end of the eighteenth century, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, also a physician and the founder of comparative anatomy, declared that the people of the Far East were a yellow race, as distinct from the white “Caucasian” one.

Keywords:   human taxonomies, East Asians, François Bernier, race, yellow, Carl Linnaeus, homo sapiens, skin color, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Far East

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