Natural Histories – Nature, Race and History

National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

Here is the first in a series of posts on the current Natural Histories exhibition, written by Nicole Smythe-Johnson. We welcome your comments on this post, the exhibition and our current direction at the NGJ.

374px-Linnaeus1758-title-pageCarl Linnaeus (1707–1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the scheme of binomial nomenclature (scientific names of plants and animals) that is still used today. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy (or classification), and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology. He is less well known as the first to articulate a scientific theory of race, a development that contributed significantly to justifications of the colonial project and is at the foundation of eugenics, the pseudo-science of race that reached its height in the early 20th century.

In his seminal book Systema Naturae, Linnaeus subdivided the human species into four varieties based…

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