Article ID: CBB950685485

The “Tribal Spirit” in Modern Britain: Evolution, Nationality, and Race in the Anthropology of Sir Arthur Keith (2020)


This article re-examines the anthropological scholarship of Sir Arthur Keith (1866–1955), who served as the president of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1914–1917), the Royal Anatomical Society (1918), and the British Association of the Advancement of Science (1927), who wrote prolifically on anatomy, evolution, and the idea of race. While most commonly associated with the Piltdown man hoax, Keith's contributions to the discipline were far greater and more complex. This essay specifically considers how Keith sought to problematize the concept of the nation, considering the nation-state as an evolutionary unit. The first half of this essay examines Keith's theories on the mechanism of evolution (hormonal instincts) and how this informed his ideas of races and nations as evolutionary units. The second half of the essay considers how Keith deployed his ideas about evolutionary instincts, with the goal of advising Britons about how an evolutionary perspective would help understand, if not resolve, modern political challenges, both international and domestic, that faced the British Empire around the time of the First World War.

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Authors & Contributors
Evans, Andrew David
McMahon, Richard
Kröner, Hans-Peter
Turda, Marius
Weindling, Paul J.
Duedahl, Poul
British Journal for the History of Science
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
History of the Human Sciences
Science in Context
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Central European University Press
University of Chicago Press
Indiana University
University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Cambridge University
Reaktion Books
Science and race
Science and politics
World War I
Darwin, Charles Robert
Smith, Grafton Elliot
Boas, Franz
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Hofmann, August Wilhelm von
Fischer, Emil Hermann
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
18th century
Great Britain
Rockefeller Foundation

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