"Race Science and Race Mysticism in Nazi Genocide"

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Dan Stone

(Royal Holloway, University of London)

"Race Science and Race Mysticism in Nazi Genocide"

 

Paper presented to the conference:

"Crafting Humans:From Genesis to Eugenics and Beyond"

8-10 September 2011, Queens College, Oxford

 

Second Annual Conference of the Berendel Foundation, in association with the Centre for health Medicine and Society and History of Race and Eugenics Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust

 

Abstract: This paper begins with a recognition of the gains that have been made by understanding the Third Reich in racial terms, in particular by examining the contribution made by eugenics, race science and anthropology to Nazi ideology, the functioning of the National Socialist regime and its criminal policies. Even with all the scholarship of the last two decades, the vast amount of racially-inspired literature and research produced by the Third Reich is still being uncovered that goes way beyond science in the strict sense, whether (for example) with respect to the complicity of academic historians with the regime or the ways in which art exhibitions, music or poetry were supposed to represent the revivified, authentic Germanic impulse. But I will go on to suggest that one result of all this scholarship is that the limits of the racial paradigm are now clear. In particular, I will suggest that whilst it remains imperative to see the Third Reich as a ‘racial state’, we need to distinguish two different registers of race thinking: race science on the one hand, and race mysticism, or simply ‘race-thinking’ on the other. The emphasis on the former in the literature results from the notion of Nazism as ‘modern’ and the assumption that race mysticism is somehow atavistic, when in fact it too is a symptom of modernity. That emphasis on racial science has the consequence too of making the Nazi regime and its intellectual legitimators appear far more coherent and consistent than was actually the case.

 

Short Bio:Dan Stone is Professor of Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has published widely on a variety of topics, including the Holocaust, genocide studies, the history of race science and eugenics, and the cultural history of the Right in Britain. His latest publications include The Historiography of Genocide (ed., Palgrave, 2008) and Histories of the Holocaust (OUP, 2010). He is the editor of two forthcoming books: The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History (OUP) and The Holocaust and Historical Methodology (Berghahn), and is currently writing a book on postwar Europe for OUP. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Genocide Research and Patterns of Prejudice.

 

 

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