Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

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Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich

(yōhän` frē`drĭkh blo͞o`mənbäkh), 1752–1840, German naturalist and anthropologist. He introduced and developed the science of comparative anatomy in Germany. His De generis humani varietate nativa (1775; tr. On the Natural Varieties of Mankind, 1865, repr. 1969) marked the beginnings of physical anthropology and described the five divisions of mankind which have been the basis of all subsequent racial classifications. Blumenbach's analysis of an extensive skull collection, published as Collectio craniorum diversarum gentium (1790–1828), established craniometric study. English translations of his works include The Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1865, repr. 1969).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich


Born May 11, 1752, in Gotha; died Jan. 1, 1840, in Göttingen. German anatomist, zoologist, and anthropologist; professor at Göttingen University (from 1778).

Blumenbach was one of the founders of modern anthropology and initiator of craniology, the study of human and animal skulls. He described five races of modern man and noted the existence of mixed races. He was the first to raise the question of the monophyletic origin of human races—that is, he regarded them as varieties of a single human species formed by climatic factors. He opposed the doctrine of preformation. In his attempts to explain the life processes and development of organisms he defended the vitalistic view, admitting the existence of an unknowable “formative striving.”


De generis humani varietate nativa, 2nd ed. Göttingen, 1781.
Über den Bildungstrieb. Gottingen, 1791.
Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie, 3rd ed. Göttingen, 1824.
In Russian translation:
Rukovodstvopo estestvennoi istorii, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1797.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Ananke, while spinning the threads of time, wanted that Johann Blumenbach (1752-1840) made an exact but opposite turn as the one previously made by Haller.
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For Georges-Louis LeClerc de Buffon, johann Blumenbach and others, the traits they observed and were the basis for their classification were not original or eternal, but only superficial responses to climate.
While the association of race based exclusively on physical features in the United States was largely a consequence of the nineteenth century scholarship of Johann Blumenbach and Georges Cuvier, the links between race and crime was first elaborated by Cesare Lombroso (1876).
The second refers to Whewell, Mill, Comte, Spencer, Dilthey, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Maxwell, Lagrange, Faraday, Mendel, Lyell, Hegel, Schelling, Lamarck, Burdach, Treviranus, Blumenbach, Girtanner, Meckel and many others in the space of thirty.
We talked about privilege, colonial inscriptions, the white masculinist underbelly of modernity in the east, and you said: "to assert oneself as a white man is to be like Kant, Blumenbach, the Imperialists, to be like Bush and to wilfully ignore all the great and often contradictory diversities of the many peoples who constitute this so called race; and the suppressed and silenced polemics of these dispossessed peoples.