Efram Sera-Shriar: The Anthropology of Francis Galton

Network Node: 
Tue., Jan. 22, 2013, 12:30pm - , 2:00pm

The Anthropology of Francis Galton
Efram Sera-Shriar, SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow in the STS program at York University
. Jan. 22 2013 12:30pm
York University
, Toronto, Ont.

This presentation examines the complex observational techniques of British anthropologists during the nineteenth century. In particular, using Galton’s initial work with composite photography in the late 1870s as a case study, it argues that nineteenth-century anthropological armchair studies were extremely sophisticated, and that researchers were highly attuned to the problems associated with their methodologies. These nineteenth-century practitioners were not simply anthologising the materials of others, but rather, they were developing specialised methods for producing their own evidence and drawing conclusions. Galton’s use of photographic processes is instructive because it highlights the ways in which researchers interested in human diversity attempted to add further scientific credibility to their arguments by utilising the most cutting-edge technologies available during the period.

Efram Sera-Shriar is a SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow in the STS program at York University, Toronto. His research examines the intersection of anthropology, race, natural history and medicine throughout the British Empire from the late eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. He received his PhD from the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds in 2011. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph, The Making of British Anthropology, 1813-1871, which is being published through Pickering and Chatto.

Location: 320 Bethune College, York University