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Ideas of Race in the Late 19th and 20th Centuries

The concept of race has been around for centuries and has been used to explain differences between people. Over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, ideas of race have changed drastically. This article will explore the ideas of race during these two periods in history and how they have impacted the world today.

Late 19th Century Ideas of Race

During the late 19th century, ideas of race were heavily influenced by the concept of Social Darwinism. This was a theory that stated that the fittest individuals in society would be the ones to survive and reproduce, while the weaker individuals would die off. This idea was used to justify social and economic inequality, particularly between different races. For example, white people were seen as being the most fit, while other races were seen as being inferior and in need of being "civilized" by the white race. This idea of racial superiority was also used to justify colonialism, with the belief that it was the white race’s duty to "civilize" people of other races.

20th Century Ideas of Race

In the 20th century, the idea of race was still heavily used to explain differences between people, but the concept of Social Darwinism had largely been debunked. This led to a new understanding of race, which focused on cultural and social differences rather than biological ones. This new understanding of race emphasized the importance of culture and identity, and the idea that people of different races could be equal.

This new understanding of race was seen as a more progressive view and was embraced by many people. However, it also led to a new form of discrimination, known as institutional racism. This form of racism was based on the idea that even though people of different races were equal, they were still subject to different forms of discrimination due to the institutional power structures that were in place.

In conclusion, ideas of race have changed drastically over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries. From Social Darwinism to a new understanding of race that emphasizes cultural and social differences, the concept of race has been used to explain differences between people and to justify discrimination. These ideas have had a major impact on the world today and will continue to shape our understanding of race for years to come.

The idea of race has evolved to a great extent over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries. During this period of major transformations in the world, this concept has been shaped by new scientific theories, imperial ambitions and powerful social movements.

In the late 19th century, the widespread acceptance of white superiority was challenged by the emerging science of evolution. Charles Darwin’s theories suggested that humanity had shared common ancestors and that evolution was a continuous, ongoing process. This led to a reassessment of the old concept of race and its various categories.

In the early 20th century, the concept of race was further challenged by imperialism and globalisation. With the growth of European empires, the idea of “Aryan supremacy” began to take hold, leading to a belief that Europeans had the right to conquer other cultures and races. This idea was bolstered by the expanding industrial revolution and the increasing use of scientific methods to measure and classify races.

As the 20th century progressed, the idea of race was challenged by powerful social movements. Civil rights activists sought to end the oppression of African Americans, Native Americans, Asians and other minority groups. International organisations such as the United Nations and UNESCO sought to address the global effects of racism and discrimination.

The late 20th century also saw the rise of multiculturalism and its challenge to the traditional concept of race. In this view, race was no longer seen as a clear-cut scientific fact but rather as an artificial construction imposed by social and political forces. This helped contribute to a wider acceptance of diversity, as people from different backgrounds were accepted as equals.

Overall, the idea of race has changed dramatically over the past two centuries. What began as a simplistic categorization of the human species eventually became a more nuanced and complex concept. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is essential to stay informed about the evolving concept of race and its implications for society.

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