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Tracing objects of measurement : locating intersections of race, science and politics at Stellenbosch University

dc.contributor.advisorVan der Waal, Keesen_ZA
dc.contributor.authorWalters, Handrien_ZA
dc.contributor.otherStellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned2018-02-28T07:12:06Z
dc.date.accessioned2018-04-09T07:08:15Z
dc.date.available2018-02-28T07:12:06Z
dc.date.available2018-04-09T07:08:15Z
dc.date.issued2018-03
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103745
dc.descriptionThesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study departs from a confrontation with a collection of ‘scientific’ objects employed at Stellenbosch University in various ways from 1925 to 1984. Eugen Fischer’s Haarfarbentafel (hair colour table), Rudolf Martin’s Augenfarbentafel (eye colour table) and Felix von Luschan’s Hautfarbentafel (skin colour table) - a collection later joined by an anatomically prepared human skull - are employed in this study as vessels for revealing broader social, scientific and political narratives about race and racial classification, both historically and contemporary, in South Africa. The study traces the history of these objects at Stellenbosch University from one context to another, from one owner to the next, from active tool of measurement to dormant objects exuding powerful and lasting ideas, and from dormant objects to a confrontational re-emergence in 2013 – a moment which sparked controversy and debate about the place and nature of these objects at Stellenbosch University. Initially employed in studies of human measurement at Stellenbosch University (1925-1955) for the purposes of racial categorization, these objects were imbued with a strong eugenic slant, supported by racial and eugenic theories (most often stemming from German academic literature), to inform constructions of the racial self and other. Similar to Saul Dubow (2010), I highlight the malleability of these eugenic theories as they were applied to the local context. These biological notions of race continued to inform engagements with race throughout the apartheid era (see Dubow 2015). Over time these objects materialized in the results they produced – results that became scientific proof for racial difference and the foundation for further engagements with race. As the objects faded out of focus, the race knowledge they embodied, supported and produced, solidified in broader South African society where, as argued by Deborah Posel (2001b), race had become common sense. By the time the objects disappeared they were no longer needed to prove racial difference – for notions of race as the biological source of inherent difference had been deeply internalized by a populace that was both governed by race and applied this logic on a daily basis in their interactions with others. The objects had become “victims of their own productivity” (Daston 2000:11). Their re-emergence in 2013 proved to be unsettling as, on some level, they acted as a stark reminder of the scientific foundations of race-thinking in South Africa. It similarly highlighted the undeterred continued potency of race-thinking in a post-apartheid era. The objects revealed that the spectre of race is haunting South Africa.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractAFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie neem ‘n konfrontasie met 'n versameling ‘wetenskaplike’ voorwerpe as vertrekpunt. Hierdie voorwerpe is vanaf 1925 tot 1984 op verskillende maniere by die Universiteit van Stellenbosch gebruik. Eugen Fischer se Haarfarbentafel (haarkleurtafel), Rudolf Martin se Augenfarbentafel (oogkleurtafel) en Felix von Luschan se Hautfarbentafel (velkleurtafel) – ‘n versameling waarby ‘n anatomies-voorbereide menslike skedel later aangesluit het - word in hierdie studie gebruik as ‘n poort waardeur die breër sosiale, wetenskaplike en politieke verhaal oor ras en rasseklassifikasie, beide histories en tans, in Suid-Afrika ten toon gestel word. Die studie volg die geskiedenis van hierdie spesifieke voorwerpe aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch van een konteks na 'n ander, van een eienaar na die volgende, van aktiewe meetinstrumente na onaktiewe voorwerpe wat kragtige en blywende idees laat voortleef het, en van onaktiewe voorwerpe tot 'n konfronterende oplewing in 2013 – ‘n oomblik wat kontroversie en debat oor die aard en plek van hierdie voorwerpe aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch tot gevolg gehad het. Tydens hul aanvanklike gebruik aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch vir menslike meting en rassekategorisering, het hierdie voorwerpe ‘n sterk eugeniese inslag gehad wat ondersteun is deur rasse- en eugeniese teorieë (meestal vanuit Duitse akademiese literatuur), en gebruik was vir die konstruksie van die rasse-‘self’ en ‘ander’. Soortgelyk aan Saul Dubow (2010), beklemtoon ek die smeebaarheid van eugeniese teoretiese interpretasies soos toegepas op die plaaslike konteks. Hierdie biologiese idees van ras het voortgeleef in verdere interaksies met die konsep van ras gedurende die apartheidsera (sien Dubow 2015). Met verloop van tyd het hierdie voorwerpe materialiseer in die resultate wat hulle opgelewer het - resultate wat gedien het as wetenskaplike bewyse vir rasseverskil en die grondslag gebied het vir verdere akademiese interaksies met ras. Soos wat die voorwerpe uit fokus verdwyn het, het die rassekennis wat hulle beliggaam, ondersteun en vervaardig het in die breër Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing versterk. Soos aangevoer deur Deborah Posel (2001b) het ras vanselfsprekend geword. Teen die tyd dat die voorwerpe verdwyn het, was hulle nie meer nodig om rasseverskille te bewys nie - idees van ras as die biologiese bron van inherente verskil was teen hierdie tyd diep geïnternaliseer deur 'n bevolking wat beide deur ras regeer is en daagliks hierdie logika toegepas het in hul interaksies met ander. Hierdie voorwerpe het “slagoffers van hul eie produktiwiteit” geword (Daston 2000:11). Hul herverskyning in 2013 het ontsenu, want hierdie voorwerpe was ‘n blatante herinnering aan die grondslag van rasdenke in Suid-Afrika. Terselfdertyd het dit ook die onbetwiste voortdurende mag van rasdenke in post-apartheid Suid-Afrika beklemtoon. Die voorwerpe het verder openbaar dat die gees van ras steeds in Suid-Afrika spook.af_ZA
dc.format.extentxvi, 302 pages : illustrationsen_ZA
dc.language.isoen_ZAen_ZA
dc.publisherStellenbosch : Stellenbosch Universityen_ZA
dc.subjectStellenbosch University -- Units of measurement -- Race identityen_ZA
dc.subjectStellenbosch University -- Pattern perception -- Race identityen_ZA
dc.subjectStellenbosch University -- Intersectionality (Sociology) -- Race identityen_ZA
dc.subjectUCTD
dc.titleTracing objects of measurement : locating intersections of race, science and politics at Stellenbosch Universityen_ZA
dc.typeThesisen_ZA
dc.rights.holderStellenbosch Universityen_ZA


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