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Anthropology

Blumenbach is located at the beginnings of a debate in modern society that continues today about the origin of life, the origin of species, monogeny, polygeny, and indeed the issue of race. On the basis of his collection of skulls, he proposed a famous classification of human varieties. By additionally arguing for the unity of humankind, Blumenbach became the founder of scientific anti-racism. This fact is insufficiently known, and the project is intended to make also this major contribution of Blumenbach to science and society better known. Specifically, our critical editing of Blumenbach’s doctoral dissertation De generis humani varietate nativa (1775 and later editions) will throw new light on the origins of anthropology, on anthropology’s disentanglement from biblical-sacred history, and also from the humanistic-philosophical orientation which was prevalent during the Enlightenment, and on its development towards a more strongly naturalistic-scientific approach.

"Exceptionally beautiful skull of a Georgian woman"
Engraving from Blumenbach’s Abbildungen naturhistorischer Gegenstände, part 6 (1802), nr. 51. Conform to contemporary travel accounts, Blumenbach attributed to the inhabitants of Georgia exceptional beauty.