Ancient Hunters and Their Modern Representatives: William Sollas’s Anthropology from Disappointed Bridge to Trunkless Tree and the Instrumentalisation of Racial Conflict

Journal of the History of Biology 38 (2):327-365 (2005)

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Abstract
During the first decades of the 20th century, many anthropologists who had previously adhered to a linear view of human evolution, from an ape via Pithecanthropus erectus and Neanderthal to modern humans, began to change their outlook. A shift towards a branching model of human evolution began to take hold. Among the scientific factors motivating this trend was the insight that mammalian evolution in general was best represented by a branching tree, rather than by a straight line, and that several new fossil hominids were discovered that differed significantly in their morphology but seemed to date from about the same period. The ideological and practical implications of imperialism and WWI have also been identified as formative of the new evolutionary scenarios in which racial conflict played a crucial role. The paper will illustrate this general shift in anthropological theory for one particular scientist, William Sollas. Sollas achieved a synthesis of human morphological and cultural evolution in what I will refer to as an imperialist model. In this theoretical framework, migration, conflict, and replacement became the main mechanisms for progress spurred by 'nature's tyrant,' natural selection.
Keywords anthropology  Britain  diversity vs. linearity  Grafton Elliot Smith  Gustav Schwalbe  Henri Breuil  human evolution  ideology  imperialism  Marcellin Boule  Neanderthal
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-004-5428-2
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References found in this work BETA

Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate, 1844-1944.Peter J. Bowler - 1988 - Journal of the History of Biology 21 (1):165-166.
The Diffusion of Culture. [REVIEW]R. J. Hopper - 1964 - The Classical Review 14 (3):327-329.

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Citations of this work BETA

Sinanthropus in Britain: Human Origins and International Science, 1920–1939.Chris Manias - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Science 48 (2):289-319.
Eoliths as Evidence for Human Origins? The British Context.Marianne Sommer - 2004 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (2):209 - 241.
The Problematic Construction of ‘Palaeolithic Man’: The Old Stone Age and the Difficulties of the Comparative Method, 1859–1914.Chris Manias - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 51:32-43.

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